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NOTHING is more variable than national
diet, except it be national appetite. An
Italian is content with a handful of bread
and grapes, but an Esquimaux will devour
twenty pounds of flesh in a day: a Hindù
picks up a few spoonfuls of rice between
sunrise and sunset; and a Russian Tartar
will eat, in the twenty-four hours, forty
pounds of meat. Nay, a Tartar mentioned
by Captain Cochrane in his Travels, consumed
in that time the hind quarters of a large ox,
twenty pounds of fat, and a proportionate
quantity of melted butter for drink; and
three of the same tribethe Yakutithink
nothing of polishing off a reindeer at a meal.
In London and New York the average
consumption of meat is half a pound to each
person daily; in Paris it is one-sixth of a
pound, with a lower fraction still for the
villages and country; yet the Irishman's
bone and muscle are elaborated from potatoes,
not from flesh; and the brawny Highlander
builds up his huge members from porridge,
kail, and whiskey. So that meat is not
absolutely essential even to Northmen; when, by
a little unconscious chemistry they supply
efficient substitutes, tailing off by units the
various properties concentrated in honest
beef and mutton.

Food is very unequally distributed among
us. There is the poor man, who can never
give his children a hearty meal; and there is
the rich man, gorged with unimaginable
luxuries: on the one side Lazarus, with a
hunger never sated; on the other Dives, who,
between the ages of ten and twenty,
consumes forty wagon-loads of superfluous meat
and drink, at the cost of seven thousand
pounds, according to the calculations of
Sidney Smith.

But even more varied than amount is
kind. There is no limit to the odd dainties
affected by different people. The New
Brunswickers find a special charm in the
moufle, or loose nose of the moose deer.
Sharks' fins and fish-maws, unhatched ducks
and chickens, sea slugs and birds' nests, are
all prized by the omnivorous Chinese. The
Esquimaux revels in the foreign luxury of a
purser's candle; and the Abyssinian intoxicates
himself with raw meat and warm blood;
which are as intoxicating in their way as
ardent spirits. Paris has lately gone mad
about horseflesh; and, in the Exhibition of
eighteen hundred and fifty-one a Monsieur
Brocchieri showed and sold delicious cakes,
patties, and bon-bons of bullocks' blood;
rivalling the famed marrons glacés, or
baptismal dragées, of the confiseries of the
Boulevards. This seems to us almost the
triumph of the art.

Meat biscuits, made in Texas for the use
of the American navy, were also exhibited.
They are like light-coloured sugar cakes in
appearance. One pound of meat biscuit
contains rather more nutriment than five pounds
of ordinary meat. Portable soup is another
matter of culinary condensation, wherein
nutritive power is out of all proportion to
bulk; and pemmican, so well known to Arctic
voyagers, is again a condensation of solid
meat finely ground; then mixed with sugar,
fat, and currants. The Siamese dry
elephants' flesh, as Germany hangs her beef and
pork: Cuba feeds her slaves on dried meat
imported in enormous quantities from Buenos
Ayres and the United States; and, all through
America, the trade in this article is brisk and
lucrative, extending even to Europe; which
imports and consumes a goodly quantity to
her share.

The extreme north presents, perhaps, the
oddest specimens of luxuries in food. Blubber,
the unruminated food of reindeer serving
as an accompanying salad; whales' skin, cut
into cubes, black as ebony, and tasting like
cocoa-nut; whales' gum, with the bone
adhering, not unlike cream cheese in flavour,
and called Tuski sugarthese were some of
the chief dishes at a Tuski banquet: while,
at a feast given by some respectable
Greenlanders, were half-raw and putrid seals'
flesh, putrid whales' tail, preserved crow-
berries mixed with reindeer's chyle, and
preserved crow-berries mixed with train-
oil. Walrus is good eating. It is like
coarse beef; and walrus liver raw, is a dish
on which to grow poetical. Frozen seal is
excellent as a stand-by in travelling; and
putrid seal, which has been buried under the
grass all the summer, is a winter's special
charm. The reindeer's maw is made into a
dish called nerukak, or the eatable, and sent
about, as presents of game or fruit might be