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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1755

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JEWISH COOKERY

 
CHAPTER LV
 

General Remarks and Recipes for Passover Dishes


As a race the Jews have derived an incalculable benefit from the remarkable and wisely conceived hygienic code which formed an essential part of the religious life of the Hebrew nation. This comprehensive scheme for the regulation of social and domestic affairs includes rules for the selection and preparation of food, which is divided into two classes, "clean" and "unclean," the latter being prohibited. Among the "unclean" foods are pork, eels, and mud-loving fish: the pig from its indiscriminate feeding being liable to internal and external parasitical diseases, especially in warm climates. Fish also suffer from parasites and rapidly decompose, particularly the fat, indigestible mud-fish.

The Mosaic code takes cognizance of the danger to health which arises from the consumption of unsound food, and minute regulations are laid down for the examination and slaughtering of animals, it being required that the butcher should be a priest, a trained expert, whose duty it is to this day to examine all cattle before they are slaughtered and reject the "unclean." The animals are killed in accordance with a strict ritual, one of the chief points being the removal of the blood, which modern science has shown often contains malignant microbes, and a potent cause of corruption and disease. Certain parts of the carcass, chiefly the digestive organs, which are commonly eaten, the Jews reject, losing indeed some gastronomic pleasure, but escaping risks which in hot climates are very real. Not only the carcasses, but the various joints are stamped by the priest with his official seal before they are delivered for consumption.

Apart from these precautions for the safety of the general public, there are various domestic rules designed to secure the wholesomeness of the food eaten by the Jews. For-example, certain joints are soaked in cold water to extract all traces of blood: fish must be cleansed with the most scrupulous care both inside and outside. Methods of cooking are also prescribed in certain cases. Fish and other classes of food must be fried in oil—a sound gastronomic and hygienic rule, for the

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