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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/165

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INTRODUCTION TO COOKERY

increases in weight in the cooking. The other is a moist food, and will lose weight before it comes to table, or it may be starchy food, which can always be bought at a low price, or it may contain bone and waste, which is not properly to be called food at all. One very good contrast is afforded by a pound of rumpsteak at fourteenpence, and a pound of beans or lentils at twopence. Both are bought for the sake of flesh-forming, or nitrogenous, food. From neither is there actual waste to be cut away. But the broiled meat will not weigh more than 12 ozs. when it comes to table, and the pulse will have taken up more than its own weight of water, which costs nothing. We have two pounds of food for twopence against three-quarters of a pound for one and twopence.

This must always be remembered in dealing with all dry foods. One pound of Indian meal weighs when cooked three pounds; half a pound of macaroni increases to two pounds, we are told by Rumford. Comparing rice to flour, if both are the same price, flour is cheaper because it is less starchy, and people who reckon such small economies as these are generally ill-fed, needing flesh-formers, which are chiefly to be found in the costlier foods.

As a third example we may take beefsteak as compared to mutton chops: they are usually about the same price per pound, but there can be no question which is the cheaper of the two, for the beef has no bone and little fat.

DIGESTION

Digestion is a complicated process, and, as a rule, a slow one. It may be interfered with either by physical short-comings such as absence of, or bad, teeth, muscular flaccidity, or nervous exhaustion, or by functional derangements causing a deficiency in the quality or quantity of saliva, gastric, or other secretions, which are poured into the stomach or intestines during the process of digestion. As a rule cooking facilitates digestion, partly by softening the food, and partly by inducing chemical changes which would otherwise have to be induced by functional activity in the stomach or intestines. In some instances, however, cooking hardens the tissues, and so retards digestion. Over roasting or quick boiling of meats usually toughens the fibres. Fat retards digestion, as it has to undergo a long process of emulsifying before being absorbed. Salt and spices, on the other hand, hasten digestion by stimulating the secretion of the necessary juices. But an over indulgence in spices of all kinds will, in the long run, irritate the mucous membrane of the intestinal canal, induce a congestive tendency of the secretory organs, and so produce functional disorganization, resulting in slow and painful digestion. Over-seasoning brings about an unhealthy condition of the liver. Too much liquid in the stomach immediately before or while eating dilutes the