My father is a retired physician, and as a faithful reader of JAMA (Journal of the American Medicine Association), he reported to me that in June of this past year, JAMA published a reprint of an article that appeared 100 years ago, on June 14, 1913, that he felt relevant to the readers of Edible Austin.
He gave me the clipping, with a handwritten note on it, "For Marla's Magazine," that I have saved in my desk drawer for the time I thought most appropriate to share. That time has come with this first of our new season of six issues: The Wellness Issue.
The first half of the reprint is a scolding of American culinary ineptitude, asserting that “neither states' rights nor slavery, but the fying-pan, brought on the Civil War; for frying encapsulated the food in a layer of fat impervious to the digestive juice, and the resulting indigestion aroused the mutual enmities and the berserker rage of our fathers.”
It goes on to revere the more civilized approach to the culinary arts exhibited by our European counterparts, “In the Old World the relation of zest and fragrance to food is held vital, and justly so…. The composer Rossini composed salads as symphonic in their way as his operas, and regretted that by reason of his neglected early education he could not have made cooking, rather than music, his profession.”
Then quotes follow from Brillat-Savarin’s great work, The Physiology of Taste, including:
“Digestion, of all bodily functions, has most influence on the morals of the individual.”
“A good dinner is but little dearer than a bad one.”
“The most momentous decisions of personal and of material life are made at table.”
“The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a planet.”
The article ends with this: “But our fellow citizens, and our doctors, and most emphatically our nurses, ought to make pure food well cooked a matter of serious national import…. When the gustatory nerves tingle in response to the stimulus of some rare condiment or aroma, the saliva flows in joyous excitement, and the digestive juices, by whose benign influences food is transformed into nourishment, respond in salutary and fullest measure. The simple and pleasant way to bring this about is to pay proper attention to the flavor of food.”
In keeping with JAMA's sage advice from 1913, within this issue we invite you to discover a myriad of ways we can manage our health through the pleasure of pure foods well cooked. Salud!