Page images

in general, very unprofitable. The bone, skin, and gristle, in such pieces, bear a great proportion to the meat, which is itself hard, indigestible, and particularly unsuitable either for the stomachs of delicate people or for those of children. The most advantageous way of employing it, is in making soups or gravies; and it does, also, very well for sausage meat; but for roasting and boiling, chuse the prime joints, such as legs of veal and mutton, sirloins, ribs, and rounds of beef.

MRS. L.-Were I to market for myself, how strangely I should be puzzled in my choice of meat! How could I tell whether it was fine or indifferent, recently, or too long killed?

MRS. B. There are some rules which may at first assist you; and after a little practice and experience, you will be able to ascertain almost from the first look, the quality and state of the meat. These rules I will give you. Ox-BEEF, when it is young, will have a fine open grain, and a good red colour; the fat should be white, for when it is of a deep yellow colour, the meat is seldom very good, and the animal has probably been fed upon oilcakes, which may have fattened and increased its bulk, but certainly it will be found not to have improved either the flavour or the appearance of the meat. * The grain of cow-beef is closer, the fat whiter, and the lean scarcely so red as that of ox

* It is necessary to correct an error, which is too general respecting the nature of oil-cake. It is not, as is supposed by many, an animal matter; but is the cake produced by pressing the oil out of linseed, in the preparation of linseed-oil. It was used in Holland for feeding cows more than a century ago.

beef. When you see beef, of which the fat is hard and skinny, and the lean of a deep-red, you may suppose it to be of an inferior kind; and when the meat is old you may know it by a line of a horny texture running through the meat of the ribs.

VEAL is generally preferred of a delicate whiteness; but, in my opinion, it is more juicy and well flavoured when of a deeper colour. The butchers are said to bleed calves profusely, in order to produce this white meat; but this practice must certainly deprive the meat of some of its nourishment and flavour. When you choose veal, endeavour to look at the loin, which will afford you the best means of judging of the veal generally; for if the kidney, which you will find on the under side of one end of the loin, be deeply enveloped in white and firm looking fat, the meat will certainly be good; and the same appearance will enable you to judge if it have been recently killed. The kidney is the part which changes the first; and, then, the suet around it becomes soft, and the meat flabby and spotted.

MUTTON must be chosen by the firmness and fineness of the grain, its good colour, and firm, white fat. It is not considered excellent until the sheep be about five years old, although it is too often killed younger.

LAMB will not keep long after it is killed. I believe you may discover by the neck end in the fore quarter, if it have been killed too long; the vein in the neck being bluish when the meat is fresh, but green when it is stale. In the hind quarter, the same discovery may be made by examining the kidand the knuckle, for the former has a slight


smell, and the knuckle is not firm, when the meat has been too long killed.

PORK should have a thin rind; and when it is fresh, the meat is smooth and cool; but, when it looks flabby, and is clammy to the touch, it is not good: and pork, above all meat, is disagreeable when it is at all stale. If you perceive many enlarged glands, or, as they are usually termed, kernels, in the fat of pork, you may conclude that the pig has been diseased, and the pork cannot be wholesome.

BACON, also, should have a thin rind; the fat should be firm, and inclined to a reddish colour; and the lean should firmly adhere to the bone, and have no yellow streaks in it. When you are purchasing a ham, have a knife stuck in it to the bone, which, if the ham be well cured, may be drawn out again without having any of the meat adhering to it, and without your perceiving any disagreeable smell. A short ham is reckoned the best.

VENISON, when young, will have the fat clear and bright, and this ought also to be of a considerable thickness. When you do not wish to have it in a very high state, a knife plunged into either the haunch or the shoulder, and drawn out, will by the smell enable you to judge if the meat be sufficiently fresh.

With regard to venison, which, as it is not an every day article of diet, it may be convenient to keep for some time after it has begun to get high or tainted, it is useful to know that animal putrefac tion is checked by fresh burnt charcoal; by means of which, therefore, the venison may be prevented

from getting worse, although it cannot be restored to its original freshness. The meat should be placed in a hollow dish, and the charcoal powder strewed over it until it cover the joint to the thickness of half an inch.

MRS. L. What are the rules for choosing fish?

MRS. B. TURBOT, which is in season the greater part of the summer, should have the underside of a yellowish white; for when it is very transparent, blue, or thin, it is not good: and the whole fish should be thick and firm.

In coD, the redness of the gills, the whiteness, stiffness, and firmness of the flesh, and the clear freshness of the eyes, are proofs of its being good. The whole fish should be thick and firm. It is in season from December to April.

SALMON should have a fine red flesh and gills; the scales should be bright, and the whole fish firm. Many persons think that salmon is improved by keeping a day or two; but, in London, this precaution is unnecessary. That which is caught in the Thames is considered the finest, though there can scarcely be better fish than the Severn salmon.

SKATE is white and thick when it is good, and may be improved by keeping for one or two days. When it is eaten very fresh, it is hard and tough.

SOLES, when fresh, are cream-coloured on the under part; but when they are not fresh, their appearance is bluish and flabby. They are a valuable fish, being almost continually in season, besides being excellent eating. The middle of summer is

the period, however, in which they are considered to be in the greatest perfection.

A HERRING should have red gills, and fresh bright eyes; and the whole fish should be stiff and firm.

WHITINGS may be had good almost throughout the year; but the time in which they are in their prime is early in the year. The whiting is a light and delicate fish, and in choosing it you must examine whether the fins and flesh be firm.

MACKAREL looks very flabby, the colours of the scales faded, and the eyes dull, when it is not fresh. It is almost the worst fish for keeping, or for carrying to any distance; on which account it is permitted to be sold on Sunday in London.

The HAKE is a fish which is much esteemed, when it is good, in Ireland and the west of England. It is difficult to distinguish its goodness by the eye, but this is readily determined by examining a notch made near the tail with a sharp knife. If the cut edge of the flesh appear curdy, the fish is good and in season.

The MULLET, the DORY, and some other fish too, are so rare, that it is difficult to determine the qualities which characterise their degrees of excellence; but you will seldom err, if you choose them from the firm texture of their flesh, the redness of their gills, and the brilliancy of their colours.

Fresh-water fish may be chosen by similar observations respecting the firmness of the flesh, and the clear appearance of the eyes, as salt-water fish. CARP and TENCH are in season during the months of July, August, and September. The former

« PreviousContinue »