Friday, December 11, 2009

The Danger of Salads

Being fond of salads, I decided to scan Beeton to discover some Victorian salads. I was prepared for a lack of lettuce-y salads (approx. two to speak of), but wasn't ready for the warnings and admonishments surrounding the eating of salads, and gasp! raw vegetables. Horrors!

Let's take a look at the cucumber. Innocent, if not a bit rudely-shaped, no? Not according to Mrs. Beeton!

The cucumber is refreshing, but neither nutritious nor digestible, and should be excluded from the regimen of the delicate.

Oh snap! I've been digesting indigestible cucumbers for years. If I went back in time to the Victorian era, could I get a job as some sort of side-show eating machine?

Mrs. Beeton also has nothing favourable to say about radishes:

They do not agree with people, except those who are in good health, and have active digestive powers; for they are difficult of digestion, and cause flatulency and wind, and are the cause of headaches when eaten to excess.

I would like to note that one of her two salad recipes calls for raw radishes. Is this lady trying to kill her readers? Or just cause some humorous "wind"?

We get similar warnings for raw celery, cauliflower, and in general, we find that Mrs. Beeton cares not for raw vegetables at all:

As vegetables eaten in a raw state are apt to ferment on the stomach, and as they have very little stimulative power upon that organ, they are usually dressed with some condiments, such as pepper, vinegar, salt, mustard, and oil. Respecting the use of these, medical men disagree, especially in reference to oil, which is condemned by some and recommended by others.

Hear that? Even salad oil is questionable. Good to see that in the era of syphilis and other horrible diseases medical science was quibbling about salad dressing.

I never knew eating my (raw) greens was so rough. No wonder Mrs. Beeton suggests boiling everything, ever.

So to recap, in the Victorian era:
Sex with multitudes of prostitutes: OK
Sending ten-year-olds to work in coal mines: OK
Cucumbers: HELL NO

Will post the results of my winter salad excursion soon. I should maybe invest in a hard hat of some sort.

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