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JAMA 100 Years Ago
June 5, 2013


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2013;309(21):2192-2195. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.174862

There is some truth in the assertion that neither states' rights nor slavery, but the frying-pan, brought on the Civil War; for frying encapsulated the food in a layer of fat impervious to the digestive juices, and the resulting indigestion aroused the mutual enmities and the berserker rage of our fathers. America is preeminently the land of the deadly hot bread, the sinker, the flapjack, the Bingo frankforter, the quick lunch, dyspepsia, with its consequent neurasthenia, and the stomach bitters, which often approximate whisky in alcohol content. It would not be difficult to prove that “bad cooking has driven many a man to drink.” Not only are our meats often badly cooked, but also vegetables are frequently boiled in a way which deprives them of their characteristic odor and their toothsomeness. “Villainous and idiotic” are the only adjectives that can describe our methods of cooking vegetables, in the opinion of Henry T. Finck,1 in his gastronomic guide to health and good living. We make other dietetic errors when we sugar our salads and salt our fruits. There would seem to be among our people, in larger measure than elsewhere in civilization, a contempt for the culinary art, as if it were beneath notice, or decadent, or savoring of the effete old world. Yet what in life can be more essential than the right preparation of substances which are to keep the human machinery going, in order that the best may be got out of it, with fewest slowings down or interruptions?

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