Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/842

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kitchens. To test this, go to one of those Swiss restaurants originally instituted in this country by that enterprising Ticinese, the late Carlo Gatti, and which are now so numerous in London and our other large towns; call for macaroni al sugo; notice the rich, brown gravy, the "sugo." Many an English cook would use half a pound of gravy beef to produce the like, but the basis of this is half an ounce of sugar, or even less; the sugar is browned by heating, not quite up to the caramel state. Burnt onion may contribute, but this is only another form of caramel with more savory properties.

While engaged upon your macaroni, look around at the other dishes served to other customers. Instead of the pale slices of meat spread out in a little puddle of pale, watery liquid, that are served in English restaurants of corresponding class, you will see dainty morsels, covered with rich, brown gravy, or surrounded by vegetables immersed in the same. This sugo is greatly varied according to the requirements, by additions of stock-broth, tarragon-vinegar, ketchup, etc., etc., but burnt sugar, or burnt onions, or burnt something is the basis of it all, sugar being the cheapest.

To further test the flavoring properties of browning, take some eels cut up as usual for stewing; divide into two portions; stew one brutally—by this I mean simply in a little water—serving them with this water as a pale gravy or juice. Let the second portion be well fried, fully browned, then stewed, and served with brown gravy. Compare the result. Make a corresponding experiment with a beefsteak. Cut it in two portions: stew one brutally in plain water; fry the other, then stew it and serve brown.

Take a highly-baked loaf, better one that is black outside; scrape off the film or crust that is quite black, i. e., completely carbonized, and you will come to a rich brown layer, especially if you operate upon the bottom crust. Slice off a thin shaving of this, and eat it critically. Mark its high flavor as compared with the comparatively insipid crumb of the same loaf, and note especially the resemblance between this flavor and that of the caramel from sugar, and that of the browned eels and browned steak. A delicate way of detecting the flavor due to the browning of bread is to make two bowls of bread and milk in the same manner, one with the crust, the other with the crumb of the same loaf. I am not suggesting these as examples of better or worse flavor, but as evidence of the fact that much flavor of some sort is generated. It may be out of place, as I think it is, in the bread and milk, or it may be added with much advantage to other things, as it is by the cook who manipulates caramel and its analogues skillfully.

The largest constituent of bread is starch. Excluding water, it constitutes about three fourths of the weight of good wheaten flour. Starch differs but little from sugar in composition. It is easily converted into sugar by simply heating it with a little sulphuric acid, and