Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cookery. It has been said that cookery is the most ancient of the arts, and that it has rendered more important services to society than any other art, because it was in the preparation of food that man learned to use fire, and it is through using fire that he has subdued nature. Even those who consider these claims on behalf of cookery to be extravagant must acknowledge that until the use of fire was discovered the knowledge of cookery was unknown, for cookery is neither more nor less than the application of heat to food, to make it more palatable and more digestible. The appreciation of cookery has varied in different ages and different countries according to the degree of culture possessed by the people of those countries. Amongst the ancient Greeks it was highly esteemed. Poetry and music were associated with the pleasures of the table, and we read in Homer that Achilles and Patroclus took part in cooking the food for a banquet given in honour of royal guests. From ancient books also we learn that Cadmus, who introduced into Greece the Phoenician characters from which the Greek alphabet was derived, had been cook to the King of Sidon. The Romans were less refined in their ideas of cookery than the Greeks; they believed in abundance of luxury more than in delicacy of flavour, and were proud of the costliness of their viands, while occasionally their luxury assumed grotesque forms. Thus we read of banquets where dishes were served whose sole merit was their cost, as the dish composed of the brains of 500 ostriches, or that in which were seen the tongues of 5,000 singing birds. The ancient Britons, on the other hand, knew little of cookery They lived chiefly on coarsely bruised barley mixed with milk.

Amongst modern nations the French are the most celebrated for their skill in cookery. Until quite recently all but the very wealthy amongst the English were notoriously ignorant of the art.

Of late years, however, more attention has been bestowed on it, and vigorous efforts have been made by persons interested in the public welfare to make the general public realise the importance of the subject. This is a cause for congratulation, for, as Count Rumford said, "Cookery and agriculture are arts of civilised nations, savages understand neither of them." Cookery certainly deserves to be studied with the greatest care. The number of inhabitants which may be supported in any country upon its internal produce depends as much upon the state of the art of cookery as upon that of agriculture.

There are six different ways of cooking food, and they are termed processes of cookery: - (1) Broiling, (2) roasting, (3) boiling, (4) stewing, (5) frying, and (6) baking. Of these Broiling is the most ancient, the most simple, and the most nutritious, because when well done the natural juices of the meat are best retained by it. Roasting may be described as most wholesome, and when not understood thoroughly the most difficult to accomplish. A great cook, Brillat Savarin, used to say, "Cookery is an art, but to roast requires genius." Curiously enough, English cooks who fail with all other modes of cookery are often skilled in roasting.

Boiling is the easiest mode of cookery, and it is most often badly done. Stewing is the best process for digestion, and it consists in cooking the food at the lowest temperature possible. Hashing is the same process applied to meat already cooked. Food thus prepared is less nourishing and less wholesome than food freshly cooked. Frying is the most speedy mode of cookery, and food cooked thus is very tasty. There are two ways of frying, the wet method, when the article to be cooked is immersed in very hot fat; the dry method, when it is tossed over the fire with very little fat. Baking is the most convenient mode of cookery. It is very similar to roasting, the difference between the two being that in roasting the food hangs in the open before a bright fire, in baking it remains motionless in a confined space. Consequently, the volatile fatty acids which are generated do not escape. It may be roughly calculated that animal food loses one-fourth of its weight by being cooked.