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and properly fed, the lean will break when pinched, and will be smooth and of a delicate white; the fat will be white and fine, and the joints will look blue; but if the rind be tough and loose, or thick and hard, and the joints look red, it is old. If the flesh be clammy it is stale. The knuckle part taints first. When measles are seen in the fat, the meat is unwholesome, and should not be eaten. A pig is in its prime at two years old.
The rind of good bacon is always thin, the fat firm and white, or rather inclined to a pink tinge, and the lean is of a bright red, tender and adhering close to the bone. If there be any appearance of yellow, it is rusty. The Wiltshire and Hampshire bacon is best, but the Yorkshire is much esteemed. Irish bacon is, in general, bad; but this article is now so re-manufatured in London, as to resemble, in appearance, the most beautiful Wiltshire bacon.
HAMS.-The Westphalia or bear's hams, are the best; but the Westmorland, Wiltshire, and Yorkshire are the most desirable, of the English curing. Choose these latter short in the shank; and to know
whether they are good, thrust a picked-pointed knife under the bone, and if it comes out clean and sweet, the ham is good, otherwise it is not.
VENISON is chosen by its fat, which should be thick, clear, and bright. A knife stuck in uuder the shoulder or shank will shew whether it be sweet. If venison looks green, or approaching to black, it is stale.
The Joints of Venison are only four; viz. The haunch, neck, breast, and shoulder.
HARES.-The claws of a young hare are smooth and sharp, the ears are tender and will easily tear, and the cleft of the lip is narrow; but the claws of an old bare are blunt and rugged, the ears dry and tough, and the cleft of the lip is wide, and the haunch is thick.-If fresh the body will be stiff. A hare is best when kept ten days or a fortnight, which, in favourable weather, may be done; but it should always be dressed as soon as it begins to bleed at the
LEVERETS may be distinguished from bares, by their having a knob or small bone on the fore leg, near the foot, which hares have not. Leverets will not keep, therefore should be dressed as soon as possible.
RABBITS.-The age of Rabbits, whether wild or tame, may be known by nearly the same rules as that of Hares: observe also, that if old, their hairs are intermixed with the wool, their claws will be limber, and their flesh, instead of being white, will have a blue cast, and be slimy.
(POULTRY is in the greatest perfection when most plentiful. It is generally dearest from February to Midsummer, and cheapest in September.)
GEESE. The bill and feet of a young Goose
will be yellow, the breast fat and plump, and the fat white and soft; but if old, the bill and feet will be red, and the fat yellow and skinny. If fresh, the feet will be limber, but if stale, stiff and dry. Green-Geese are in season in April, May, and June. They should be scalded. Stubble-Geese come into season in September.
TURKEYS. Choose cock birds. The very best have black legs, but the white legged birds are nearly as fine. If young their legs will be smooth, and the spurs of the cock will be very short and tender; but if old, the legs will be rough, and the spurs long and hard, unless filed or cut off. But the best criterion, by which to judge of both Turkeys and Fowls with certainty is, that the toes and bills, if they be young, will be soft and pliable, but will feel hard and stiff, if old. A Turkey should be kept without meat thirty-six hours before it is killed, and should be hung up in its feathers a week before it is dressed.
FOWLS.-Young Pullets are in their prime before they begin to lay; but Hen Fowls are best when full of eggs, at which time the vent is soft. The comb, skin, and legs of old Hens are rough. A good Capon has a large rump, and much fat at the shoulders, and its comb is pale.
To know whether any kind of Fowl in its feathers is fit to dress, pull the feathers off the vent very gently, and if they come off easily, it ought to be dressed immediately.
DUCKS and DUCKLINGS.-These may be chosen by the same rules as Turkeys and Fowls; but the bills and feet of wild Ducks are smaller and redder than those of tame ones; their plumage too is different. Young wild Ducks will not keep. All young Ducks should be scalded, as that sweetens them, and improves their flavour.
[Norfolk is famous for Turkeys, Geese, and Ducks; Surrey and Susesx for Fowls and Duck
lings. The Dorking Fowls are in high estimation in London.]
PIGEONS. These birds should be both young and fresh, and when they are so, they are fat and full at the vent; their legs are limber and of a dusky white young Pigeons have also a yellow down round their necks and heads. If old, their legs and feet are large, harsh, and red, and the vent discoloured and flabby. Tame Pigeons are best, as wood Pigeons are harder and darker coloured.
To judge whether these are young and fresh, observe the rules given above for tame Fowls; recollect also that these birds should be fat, and when they are so, they will be hard at the vent; if stale, the skin will peel off when rubbed with the finger.
PHEASANTS.-Cock Pheasants are best. Hens are excellent when full of eggs..
WOODCOCKS.-These are fine, high-flavoured birds, and when in the best condition, they feel thick and firm, and have a vein of fat down the sides of the breast. When stale they run at the nostrils. Land Rails and Snipes are chosen by these rules.
PARTRIDGES.-The yellow legs of young partridges become blue when old, and their bills changed from yellow to a dark hue.
QUAILS. These come chiefly from France and Germany, but the finest and best that are sold in London, come from Cambridgeshire, and are fed by the poulterers with herbs, seed, or boiled bread and milk. They are so extremely delicate, in feeding, that two of them will not eat out of the same trough..
TEAL is of a beautiful plumage, and very deli cate to eat. Their bills and feet are black, and are shaped like those of a Duck.
RUFFS and REES are chiefly found in Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire; and in April or May,
when most in season, they are a perfect lump of fat. If poor, when caught, they should be fattened with white bread and milk boiled, given them in separate troughs.
MOOR GAME, and even GROUSE, may be kept good a long time. Old birds of all kinds will keep longest, and will be the better for keeping; but young birds should be dressed soon.
SMALL BIRDS, of every description, should be dressed immediately.
General Rules for choosing it.
(The price of fish depends on the supply; and it will often be found, that one kind of fish, equally as good and seasonable as another, may be bought for much less money; therefore, never buy at an extravagant price.)
When fish is fresh, it is firm, bright, and stiff; the gills are of a lively red, hard to open, and sinell sweet; and the eyes are full and clear. If stale, the whole fish, and particularly the gills and fins, will always be flabby and limber, the gills will be pale, and the eyes sunk and dull. By these rules alone, good fish may be distinguished from bad; but besides these, some kinds of fish have other distinguishing peculiarities, which are as follow; viz.
STURGEON.-The grain of the flesh of a fine Sturgeon is smooth and very white, interspersed with blue veins. The skin is soft and tender, and its smell is very pleasant. When the veins and gristles are brown or yellow, instead of blue, or the skin is hard and dry, the fish is not good.
CAVIARE. This is the roe of the female Sturgeon. It should be taken out and beaten flat, then sprinkled with salt and dried, first in the sun and air, and afterwards in an oven, till it becomes very dry and of a reddish brown colour. Thus prepared, it is a fine relish; it is to be eaten with oil and vinegar.