For the consumer of the 21st century is hard to ignore the connection between diet and health. “Healthy food” is ubiquitous, but the connection between the food we eat and our physical health is not new: the ancient Greeks believed that good health depends on maintaining balance in the body (phlegm, blood, yellow bile and black bile) and the proposed changes in a diet if the system became irregular.
Indeed, Hippocrates wrote in “On Aliment” in the late fifth or early fourth century BC that we can find “the food is great medicine”. During the second century of our era, this idea was expanded a fan of his, Galen, in “the power of food”.
Recent trends promote a plant-based diet as a means of improving General health, but advice on nutrition in past years have often assumed that animal products play an important role in maintaining physical health. Some types of meat, advertised as very healthy foods in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, today may seem strange.
Diuretic dried hedgehogs
Take, for example, the hedgehog. This little garden creature, which is now a protected species in many countries, once it was also a diet, prescribed for certain groups of people. “Das Kockbuch des Meisters Eberhard”, the German cookbook, Dating from the mid-15th century, recommends to use a hedgehog as useful when two separate States of health: leprosy and urinary retention. The book recommends:
“The meat of a hedgehog is good for lepers. Those who dries his intestines and grinds it into powder and eat a little, do a urination, even if they can’t do it otherwise.”
Bear against baldness and hemp against plague
The nobles of the 15th century could find the health benefits of cooking prey caught during hunting. According to the book of Bartolomeo Platinum “De honesta veloptate et valetudine (On right pleasure and good health”, 1465), eating the roasted meat of the bear was a great way to prevent baldness. For the ultimate improvement of health, the aristocracy can eat it together with bread from cannabis, which claimed Platinum will reflect a plague.
Snails, as a remedy against tuberculosis
After almost two centuries, appeared less dangerous than a bear and more healthy statements eating humble land snail. Written in 1670, a certain Hannah Woolley Tome contains recipes for a range of medicinal drinks, including “water of snails”, which was considered excellent for “consumption” (a term that then referred to any debilitating disease, but it later became particularly associated with tuberculosis).
Woolley gives a detailed description of the recipe that includes crushed roasted snails (including shell) with a mixture of Clary sage, celandine, slops, healing ointments, herbs with five leaves, and, “if you feel hot add a little wood” sorrel, “handfuls with five tops of Angelica”. Then the mixture should be immersed overnight in white wine and ale before adding the final ingredients: “a pint of earthworms”, anise, fennel, turmeric and antlers. This final mixture should be covered with white wine and left to solidify. As soon as all this “will be like jelly”, it can be consumed by the patient.
Stewed prunes and prostitutes
Today we believe that stewed prunes has a mild laxative effect, but in Elizabethan England it was used quite differently. At the end of 1500 years it was believed that the plum serves as a preventive measure and remedy for sexually transmitted diseases. Doctor William close recommended its use in “the Treatise about love”, which was included in his “a Profitable and necessary book of observations” in 1596.
Indeed, faith in the ability of prunes to prevent infection was so strong that it is usually served in brothels.
“Wit wit” Thomas Lodge and the “Mundane madness” (1596) suggest that the habitat of prostitutes can be identified by detecting the “dish of stewed prunes in the window, and two or three flowering girls are sitting, doing knitting or sewing in her shop”.
This practice is reflected in popular culture – Shakespeare repeatedly used the stewed prunes to refer to brothels and prostitutes.
Corn flakes to curb sexual appetite
Stewed fruit is not the only Breakfast foods of the 21st century, which in the past was used in an unusual way to health. In the late 19th century by American doctor John Harvey Kellogg accidentally invented a new “healthy” dish for Breakfast.
Believing that any form of sexual activity harms the health, Dr. Kellogg particularly concerned about the risk of “samosohraneniya” among their patients, listing 39 possible symptoms of Masturbation in his book “plain facts for old and young. History and hygiene of organic life” (1877). To avoid these health problems, which included acne, epilepsy, defective development and “stiffness” of the joints, Kellogg advocated a diet with soft food. Working with his brother will Keith Kellogg experimented with different ways of baking bread and crackers. One unexpected break in the kitchen led to a cooling of cooked wheat before it was rolled out. The resulting “granose” (wheat flakes) were considered excellent soft healthy food.
In 1898 the brothers tried the same process with roasted corn, and were born well-known “corn flakes”. The brothers founded a company to manufacture healthy food BattleCreek Sanitarium and was originally sold this product as the food grains that contributed to the digestion and reduced sexual urge. It was launched in commercial production as of Breakfast cereal in 1906 when William Kellogg formed his own company – a company for production of fried corn flakes in Battle Creek (later renamed to the famous Kellogg Company).
Aphrodisiacs from pregnant horses, figs and artichokes
In ancient Rome the main aphrodisiac was a byproduct of pregnancy in horses. This mass resembles a placenta, but really is a separate product that is formed from the concentration of waste in allantoina pouch.
Fortunately, a more acceptable cure for low libido, it was suggested at the beginning of the 16th century, when doctor Andrew Burd proposed the use of the humble artichoke.
English book “Boyde’s A Dyetary of Helth” is also called an aphrodisiac figs, but warns that they tend “to provoke human perspiration”, and therefore “give rise to lice.” Risking for the sake of attractiveness lice, as the main side effect in love with the British could find his bed occupied by several intruders.
Drink to your health?
In the “Naturalis Historia”, written in the years before his death in 79 ad, Pliny the Elder noted the difficulty of determining whether wine drinking is “more harmful in its consequences or useful.” Of course, this ancient debate continues today, when the excessive consumption is considered harmful and scientists around the world to discuss the amount of alcohol that people can safely consume.
However, throughout history there have been instances when large consumption of wine was seen in a favourable light. In the early 19th century, the Austrian naturopath Johann Schroth founded a health centre in Linewise. At the resort, along with a regime of cold wraps and steam baths, patients were allocated to special “drinkthen” (days drinking), in which they were prescribed house wines, selected for their individual needs.
Several decades later, the French biologist Louis Pasteur declared: “Grape drink and health” (wine – the most healthy and hygienic drink).
Those wishing to adopt the approach of Pasteur, but to avoid the negative consequences of alcohol consumption you can refer to the advice presented in the guide to health and cookbook of the 16th century “Castle of health”. In it the writer sir Thomas Eliot suggests that quince, roasted and mixed with sugar or honey, will stimulate the appetite and “protects the head from drinking”. It sounds a bit nicer than the recipe suggested Pliny the Elder: fried sheep lungs and “ashes of the beak of a swallow, sprinkled with myrrh and wine”, both of which, he believed, “will act as a preservative against intoxication.”
If these precautions are against drinking don’t work, the story offers various treatments from the hangover fried Canaries drops to Pliny Goddard – hangover remedies, presumably taken by king Charles II on the advice of a physician of the 17th century, Dr. Jonathan Goddard. All you need for cooking miracle drops, it is a bit of ammonia in the form of ammonia, ivory, dried vipers and the skulls of the recently hanged man …