KEEPING WELL 423
Importance of Cooking
Not- only the palatability, but to a large degree the usefulness, of food depends upon the care which is exercised in its preparation. Certain kinds of food require no preparation, but are palatable and nutritious' as provided by bountiful nature. Many of the fruits, and not a few vegetables, may be included in this category. Other vegetables, cereals, etc., must be ground, baked, boiled, fried, or otherwise subjected to the action of heat before they become suitable or attractive for food. This operation in which the action of heat is invoked, which we call cooking, is a most important one. It develops certain odors or flavors which are agreeable both to the sense of smell and that of taste, making the food more palatable and in many cases more digestible; it coagulates albuminous material, and with some substances it produces chemical changes which promote their nutritive value.
Of particular importance is it that animal tissue should be submitted to heat before it is used as food. Certain very troublesome parasites are found in the muscles of animals (for example, trichinae in swine), and the habit of eating this tissue uncooked has led to countless cases of disease, every one of which could have been avoided had the meat always been cooked. Oysters and clams are also not infrequently the bearers of disease germs, and the friend who places them in tempting array before us may little realize the danger to which he is exposing us, or possibly the disaster which he unwittingly invokes.
Condiments and relishes are often useful in giving piquancy to the taste of food, and often assist digestion by their stimulation of the gastric mucous membrane.
The effect of salt, pepper, mustard, cloves, allspice, etd, is too well known to require comment. Gravies and sauces in which fat and grease form the principal element are not usually to be commended. If the digestive function is weak, they will usually add an unnecessary burden to it.