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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/340

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toinette kept her carp like the turbot of the Roman dame mentioned above, and also adorned her finny pet with a golden ring. In England, in the reign of Edward II, fish became a dainty, especially the sturgeon, which was made a "royal" fish, and was not permitted to appear on any table but that of the King. In the fourteenth century a decree of King John informs us that the people ate both seals and porpoises. The monks and noble landowners established in the Middle Ages extensive systems of ponds and canals for breeding fresh-water fish, so much in demand on fast days. Vestiges of these preserves are still to be seen in many parts of the country.

American terrapin soup is made from the flesh of various species of the fresh-water tortoises, many of which are natives of North America. They are distinguished by a horny beak or jaws with sharp cutting edges and limbs, having each of the five toes united by a web. They live on vegetables, reptiles, fish and other aquatic animals. The salt-water terrapin is abundant in the salt marshes of Charleston. The most esteemed species for culinary purposes is the chicken tortoise, so-called from the delicacy of its flesh.


Fish as Food.—As an article of nourishment, fish is less satisfying and less stimulating than butcher's meat. Hence it is valuable in the sick room, when stronger kinds of animal food are unsuitable for invalids. It is, however, a matter of common experience that in fishing-towns, where little or no other animal food is taken, the health and vigour of the inhabitants are excellent.

The amount of nourishment contained in fish varies with the species. Some of the red-fleshed fish are almost as nutritious as butcher's meat. Chief amongst these is salmon, once a principal article of food in this country. Every one has heard of the Scotch apprentices, in whose indentures it was customary to insert a clause to the effect that salmon should not be given them more than twice a week. In point of fact, the richness and peculiar flavour of this fish make it ill adapted for daily food.

The white-fleshed fish, such as whiting, sole, haddock, hake, cod and skate are less nourishing, but more digestible, and it is said that they do not so soon pall upon the appetite of those who live on fish. The whiting is best suited for invalids; and next, perhaps, come the sole, haddock and plaice. Cod, hake and skate are remarkably firm-fleshed and fibrous, and even when in good condition, are somewhat difficult of digestion. The flesh of all these fish contains little fat; but in the liver, especially that of the cod-fish, oil accumulates in larger quantity. Fish oil is said to be more easy of digestion than any other kind of fat, and cod-liver oil is therefore commonly given to invalids.

In other fish, with flesh more or less white, there is much fat in the tissues. Herrings, pilchards, sprats, eels, lampreys, mackerel are