Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/393

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THE CHEMISTRY OF COOKERY.

It is obtainable by boiling these creatures down, but is more difficult of solution than the ordinary gelatine of beef, mutton, fish, and poultry. To this difficulty of solution in the stomach is to be attributed, I suspect, the nightmare that follows lobster-suppers.

I once had an experience of the edibility of the shells of a crustacean. When traveling, I always continue the pursuit of knowledge in restaurants by ordering anything that appears on the bill of fare that I have never heard of before, or can not translate or pronounce. At a Neapolitan restaurant, I found "Gambers di mare" on the carta, which I translated "Leggy things of the sea," or sea-creepers, and ordered them accordingly. They proved to be shrimps fried in their shells, and were very delicious—like white-bait, but richer. The chitine of the shells was thus cooked to crispness, and no evil consequences followed. If reduced to locusts, I should, if possible, cook them in the same manner, and, as they have similar chemical composition, they would doubtless be equally good.

Should any epicurean reader desire to try this dish (the shrimps, I mean), he should fry them as they come from the sea, not as they are sold by the fishmonger, these being already boiled in salt-water (usually in sea-water) by the shrimpers who catch them, the chitin being indurated thereby.

The introduction of fried and tinned locust as an epicurean delicacy would be a boon to suffering humanity, by supplying industrial compensation to the inhabitants of districts subject to periodical plagues of locust invasion. The idea of eating them appears repulsive at first, so would that of eating such creepy-crawly things as shrimps, if no adventurous hero had made the first exemplary experiment. Chitine is chitine, whether elaborated on the land or secreted in the sea. The vegetarian locust and the cicala are free from the pungent essential oils of the really unpleasant cockchafer.

 
VI.—GELATINE AND ITS CHANGES.

Those who are disposed to bow too implicitly to mere authority in scientific matters will do well to study the history and the treatment which gelatine has received from some of the highest of these authorities. Our grandmothers believed it to be highly nutritious, prepared it in the form of jellies for invalids, and estimated the nutritive value of their soups by the consistency of the jelly which they formed on cooling, which thickness is due to the gelatine they contain. Isinglass, which is simply the swim-bladder of the sturgeon and similar fishes cut into shreds, was especially esteemed, and sold at high prices. This is the purest natural form of gelatine.

Everybody believed that the callipash and callipee of the alderman's turtle-soup contributed largely to his proverbial girth, and those who could not afford to pay for the gelatine of the reptile made mock turtle from the gelatinous tissues of calves'-head and pigs'-feet. The