Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/845

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THE CHEMISTRY OF COOKERY.

Besides this, the coffee is commonly though not universally flavored with a specially and skillfully prepared caramel, instead of the chiccory so largely used in England. Much of the so-called "French coffee" now sold by our grocers in tins is caramel flavored with coffee, rather than coffee flavored with caramel; and many shrewd English housewives have discovered that, by mixing the cheapest of these French coffees with an equal quantity of pure coffee, they obtain a better result than with the common domestic mixture of three parts coffee and one of chiccory.

A few months ago a sample of "coffee-finings" was sent to me for chemical examination, that I might certify to its composition and wholesomeness. I described it in my report as "a caramel, with a peculiarly rich aroma and flavor, evidently due to the vegetable juices or extractive matter naturally united with the saccharine substance from which it is prepared." I had no definite information of the exact nature of this saccharine substance, but have good reason to assume that it was a by-product of sugar-refining.

Neither the juice of the beet-root nor the sap of the sugar-cane consists entirely of pure sugar dissolved in pure water. They both contain other constituents common to vegetable juices, and some peculiar to themselves. These mucilaginous matters, when roughly separated, carry down with them some sugar, and form a sort of coarse sweet wort, capable, by skillful treatment, of producing a rich caramel such as I received.

I tested its practical merits by making an infusion of pure coffee of fine quality, dividing this into two parts, adding to one a small quantity of the caramel, and leaving the other half unmixed. I found the infusion greatly improved in flavor by the admixture, and recognized the peculiarity which characterizes the coffee prepared by Gatti and his compatriots, whose numerous establishments are doing so much for the promotion of temperance in this country. The aroma of this particular caramel is peculiarly fine, and the greater part of it is soluble in boiling water; thus I was able to mix it by merely adding to the coffee as we add sugar.

I have used my best eloquence in trying to persuade the manufacturers to sell it separately, but have not yet succeeded. They seem to have had painful experience of the gastronomic bigotry of Englishmen, who refuse to eat or drink anything that is not hallowed by the sanction of their great-grandmothers, unless it is surreptitiously introduced by means of some device approaching as nearly as possible to a commercial swindle.

Returning to the subject of frying, we encounter a good illustration of the practical importance of sound theory. A great deal of fish and other kinds of food are badly and wastefully cooked in consequence of the prevalence of a false theory of frying. It is evident that many domestic cooks (not hotel or restaurant cooks) have a vague