Onions are next in value, being much milder and sweeter when grown in a warm climate, but used chiefly as a flavoring. Lettuce and Celery are especially valuable; the former for salads, the latter to be eaten without dressing though it is excellent cooked. Tomatoes are really a fruit, though eaten as a vegetable, and are of especial value as a cooling food. Egg-plant, cucumbers, &c., all demand space; and so with edible fungi, mushrooms, and truffles, the latter the property of the epicure, and really not so desirable as that fact would indicate.
FRUITS are last in order; and among these stands first of all the apple. While in actual analysis fruits have less nutritive value than vegetables, their acids and salts give to them the power of counteracting the unhealthy states brought about by the long use of dried or salted provisions. They are a corrective also of the many evils arising from profuse meat-eating, the citric acid of lemons and grape-fruit being an antidote to rheumatic and gouty difficulties. Cold storage now enables one to command grapes long after their actual season has ended, and they are invaluable food. The brain-worker is learning to depend more and more on fruit in all its forms; and apples lead the list, containing more solid nutriment than any other form. While considered less digestible raw than baked, they are still one of the most attractive, life-giving forms of food, and if eaten daily would prove a standard antidote to patent medicine. The list of fruits is too long for mention here; but all have their specific uses, and are necessary to perfect health.
SUGAR and HONEY follow in the stores of the vegetable kingdom. Cane-sugar and glucose, or grape-sugar, are the two recognized varieties, though the making of beet-sugar has become an industry here as well as in France. Grape-sugar requires to be used in five times the amount of cane, to secure the same degree of sweetness. Honey also is a food,—a concentrated solution of sugar, mixed with odorous, gummy, and waxy matters. It possesses much the same food value as sugar, and is easily digested.
With the various FARINACEOUS PREPARATIONS, Sago, Tapioca,_ Arrow-root_, &c, the vegetable dietary ends. All are light, digestible foods, principally starchy in character, but with little nutriment unless united with milk or eggs. Their chief use is in the sick-room.
Restricted as comment must be, each topic introduced will well reward study; and the story of each of these varied ingredients in cookery, if well learned, will give one an unsuspected range of thought, and a new sense of the wealth that may be hidden in very common things.
CONDIMENTS AND BEVERAGES.
Condiments are simply seasoning or flavoring agents, and, though hardly coming under the head of food, yet have an important part to play. As food by their use is rendered more tempting, a larger amount is consumed, and thus a delicate or uncertain appetite is often aided. In some cases they have the power of correcting the injurious character of some foods.