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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/517

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THE CHEMISTRY OF COOKERY.

search (especially of endowed research), a staff of obedient assistants to do the drudgery.

The comparison specially demanded is between cheeses made with rennet and those Dutch and factory cheeses the curd of which has been precipitated by hydrochloric acid. Theoretical considerations point to the conclusion that in the latter much or even all of the phosphate of lime may be left in solution in the whey, and thus the food-value of the cheese seriously lowered. We must, however, suspend judgment in the mean time.

In comparing the nutritive value of cheese with that of flesh, the retention of this phosphate of lime nearly corresponds with the retention of the juices of the meat, among which are the phosphates of the flesh.

These phosphates of lime are the bone-making material of food, and have something to do in building up the brain and nervous matter, though not to the extent that is supposed by those who imagine that there is a special connection between phosphorus and the brain, or phosphorescence and spirituality. Bone contains about eleven per cent of phosphorus, brain less than one per cent.

The value of food in reference to its phosphate of lime is not merely a matter of percentage, as this salt may exist in a state of solution, as in milk, or as a solid very difficult of assimilation, as in bones. That retained in cheese is probably in an intermediate condition not actually in solution, but so finely divided as to be readily dissolved by the acid of the gastric juice.

I may mention, in reference to this, that, when a child or other young animal takes its natural food in the form of milk, the milk is converted into unpressed cheese, or curd, prior to its digestion.

Supposing that on an average cheese contains only one half of the six per cent of phosphate of lime found, as above, in the casein, and taking into consideration the water contained in flesh, the bone, etc., we may conclude generally that one pound of average cheese contains as much nutriment as three pounds of the average material of the carcass of an ox or sheep as prepared for sale by the butcher; or, otherwise stated, a cheese of twenty pounds weight contains as much food as a sheep weighing sixty pounds as it hangs in the butcher's shop.

Now comes the practical question. Can we assimilate or convert into our own substance the cheese-food as easily as we may the flesh-food?

I reply that we certainly can not if the cheese is eaten raw; but have no doubt that we may if it be suitably cooked. Hence the paramount importance of this part of my subject. A Swiss or Scandinavian mountaineer can and does digest and assimilate raw cheese as a staple article of food, and proves its nutritive value by the result; but feebler bipeds of the plains and towns can not do the like.