Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/530

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THE remainder of the second portion of my subject—viz., the preparation of food, which ought to have been concluded in the first paper—must appear, although in very brief terms, at the commencement of this. After which I shall proceed to consider the chief object of the present article, viz., the combination and service of dishes to form a meal, especially in relation to dinners and their adjuncts.

I think it may be said that soups, whether clear (that is, prepared from the juices of meat and vegetables only), or thick (that is, purées of animal or vegetable matters), are far too lightly esteemed by most classes in England, while they are almost unknown to the working-man. For the latter they might furnish an important, cheap, and savory dish; by the former they are too often regarded as the mere prelude to a meal, to be swallowed hastily, or disregarded altogether as mostly unworthy of attention. The great variety of vegetable purées, which can be easily made and blended with light animal broths, admits of daily change in the matter of soup to a remarkable extent, and affords scope for taste in the selection and combination of flavors. The use of fresh vegetables in abundance—such as carrots, turnips, artichokes, celery, cabbage, sorrel, leeks, and onions—renders such soups wholesome and appetizing. The supply of garden produce ought in this country to be singularly plentiful; and, owing to the unrivaled means of transport, all common vegetables ought to be obtained fresh in every part of London. The contrary, however, is unhappily the fact. It is a matter of extreme regret that vegetables, dried and compressed after a modern method, should be so much used as they are for soup, by hotel-keepers and other caterers for the public. Unquestionably useful as these dried products are on board ship and to travelers camping out, to employ them at home when fresh can be had is the result of sheer indolence or of gross ignorance. All the finest qualities of scent and flavor, with some of the fresh juices, are lost in the drying process; and the infusions of preserved vegetables no more resemble a freshly made odoriferous soup, than a cup of that thick, brown, odorless, insipid mixture, consisting of some bottled "essence" dissolved in hot water, and now supplied as coffee at most railway stations and hotels in this country, resembles the recently made infusion of the freshly roasted berry. It says little for the taste of our country-men that such imperfect imitations are so generally tolerated without complaint.

The value of the gridiron is, perhaps, nowhere better understood than in England, especially in relation to chops, steak, and kidney.