Open main menu

Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1646

This page has been validated.
1470
HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT

became known in other countries in the beginning of last century. For France alone the consumption now reaches 6,000,000 kilograms.

Cocoa.—The consumption of cocoa is yearly increasing in this country. It is prepared from the seeds of the Theobroma Cacao, a tree grown in South America, Asia, and Africa. Chocolate was introduced into Europe by the Spaniards, whose national beverage it still is, and it reached England during the latter half of the seventeenth century. Columbus brought it to Europe in 1520. Cocoa possesses to some extent the stimulating properties of tea and coffee, but it differs from them in that it contains also a considerable amount of fat and albuminous matter. It is, as its name implies, food as well as drink. Moreover, we drink not merely an infusion of cocoa, but the cocoa itself. The first step is to roast the nut and remove the husk.

The kernel, roughly ground, and usually with some of the fat removed, is sold as cocoa-nibs. Prepared cocoa is made by grinding the kernel to powder, removing some of the fat, and adding a certain proportion of starchy matter and sugar. To some of the cheaper cocoas the ground husk is added by way of adulteration. All these preparations are sweet, and thicken when mixed with boiling water and milk. The pure cocoa extracts and essences consist only of ground cocoa nibs with some of the fat removed; they have a distinctly bitter flavour, and they do not thicken with boiling. Some few harmful substances are occasionally added as adulterants. The best prepared cocoas are wholesome and nourishing, and contain only cocoa, starch, and sugar. Chocolate is prepared by grinding the finer sorts of cocoa beans over warm rollers, with a suitable addition of sugar and vanilla or other flavouring. Much skill is employed in its preparation, and the best qualities are sold at a high price. It is used as a beverage, but more often in this country as a luxury or a food. It is very nourishing and sustaining, and is often carried by pedestrians and mountaineers.

Maté.—The tea of Paraguay, prepared from the Brazilian holly (Ilex Paraguayensis), is sold in this country, and has some few drinkers. The leaf is dried and pulverized, and the infusion is prepared in a dried gourd or calabash, out of which it is sucked through a straw or bombilla.

Coca.—The dried leaf of the Erythroxylon Coca is consumed in Bolivia, Peru, and the adjoining countries, where the inhabitants chew it as well as drink the infusion. In this country the leaves are chewed by pedestrians and cyclists as preventives of fatigue, or as restoratives after exertion. Used in the same way as Chinese tea, it has a pleasant flavour, and it does not appear to have the same ill effects upon digestion, though there is no evidence to show what the effect of its prolonged use would be. Coca is used in surgery to deaden pain and as a medicine to soothe the nerves and induce sleep.