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Foods and Culinary Utensils of the Ancients

Which was the sole support of the Israelites for forty years


The

manna of European commerce is exported from Calabria and Sicily. It drops from punctures made in a species of ash by an insect resembling the locust. It is fluid at night, but begins to harden in the morning.

The manna of Scripture, which was the sole support of the Israelites for forty years, must be regarded as miraculous, as (1) manna is under ordinary circumstances stimulating rather than sustaining, (2) the season in which it is found does not extend over a term of more than three or four months, (3) it is found only in small quantities compared to the enormous amount--15,000,000 pounds a week--which would have been necessary to provide each member of the Israelite camp with the rations mentioned, (4) a double quantity certainly does not fall on the day preceding the Sabbath and (5) no natural product ceases at once and forever.

The mustard plant mentioned in the Gospels may have been either the common mustard plant which grows to a large size in the Orient, or it may have been the _Salvadora persica_, an arboreous plant of abundant foliage, the seeds and leaves of which have a distinct flavor of mustard.

THE CHINESE.

It would be foolish to publish any strict dietary code as descriptive of the food of the people of the vast region generally known as the Chinese Empire, for apart from the difference

in the products of the various sections of that diversified country, it must be remembered that the numerous tribes, which when amalgamated centuries ago formed the Empire, have retained most of their original customs, owing partly to the paucity of transportation facilities and the consequent impediments to an interchange of ideas, partly to the conservative nature of the people and partly to the influence of climate and surroundings. Furthermore, as, excepting a few fruits which are of comparatively recent introduction, such as the pineapple, the foods of Chinamen to-day closely resemble the foods of Chinamen four thousand years ago, it will not be necessary in this volume to keep very strictly apart the past and the present.

Until quite recently it was customary to regard the Chinese as uncivilized and degraded heathens who voraciously devoured all kinds of vermin and other miscellaneous tit-bits which to most people of the Western Hemisphere are repulsive even in suggestion, hence it may be well to repeat here that, although it remains true that cats, dogs and rats occasionally serve as articles of food, this happens only when provisions are scarce or among the very poor, who (as in all civilized countries), linger always on the threshold of starvation.

The Chinese, in spite of the doleful tales of some writers, are on the whole a well fed race. Beef and mutton are not plentiful except in the north, but hogs, poultry and fish, with vegetables, fruits and rice are within the reach of a majority of the population. Wrote a Chinese sage: "The scholar forsakes not his books nor the poor man his pig." Furthermore, in the preparation of their national dishes the Chinese cooks (especially those in the cities and in the households of the rich) display a high degree of skill.

Wheat, several varieties of rice and sweet potatoes are grown in all parts of the Empire, and barley, sorghum, cabbages, beans and other vegetables and sugar cane are also raised in large quantities.


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