EUGENE UNDERHILL, JR., M.D., Editor.
NOTES ON FOODS.
BANANAS are a valuable and nourishing fruit. If served with cream and honey, maple syrup or raw cane sugar, they make a very pleasing and satisfying meal. As the banana ripens a portion of the starch is converted into sugar and one stage in the digestive process is thus accomplished before the fruit is eaten. When the skin is speckled black and yellow bananas are at their best although somewhat over ripe is better than too green. A small boy who ate a dozen real ripe bananas as fast as he could manage them was expected to suffer with acute indigestion most any minute but he was on hand with a big appetite for the next meal.
Bananas are rather hearty to take between meals or upon retiring but are certainly far better for one at such times than either cookies or candy for the very good reason that they are a natural food. In certain tropical and subtropical lands bananas are the chief and at times almost the only food used by the natives.
In cases of digestive dysfunction it would be better not to take bananas at the same time that citrous or other acid fruits are eaten.
CHERRIES, of which there are a number of varieties, are delicious as well as valuable. The sour varieties (pie cherries) are perfectly good and, after, the sharpness of the first taste subsides, are enjoyed by most people. Picking cherries is a most delightful task providing one can combine business with pleasure and pick them on shares, half for the pail and the other half for immediate consumption, eating while you work. Buying a basket of cherries and making a job of eating them is not one tenth as much fun and not such good exercise as going right out after them.
A cherry tree or two is recommended for all who have enough ground to spare for their cultivation. Again we wish to emphasize the importance of trying all the varieties on the market. There is sure to be some flavor or degree of sweetness that will just suit ones particular taste. Cherries may be eaten freely morning, noon, night, between meals, at meal time and upon retiring, also in the middle of the night if desired. They are slightly laxative for many people and are somewhat diuretic.
In speaking of the various fruits of course we are stressing the fresh raw product for in that form they are most beneficial in their effect and easiest to digest.
FRESH FIGS are far superior to the dried and preserved product as well as more wholesome and nutritious. Figs contain organic calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphoric acid and they are one of the alkalinizing foods. Even in the large eastern cities many Italian families have their own fig tree in their back yards. They tenderly care for it as they would a pet dog or cat, protecting it against excessively low temperatures so that it will not winter kill. The tree responds to the care given it and bring forth its fruit in due season.
Many of the fancy fruit stands and stores carry fresh figs, occasionally at least, and everyone should sample them. They taste especially good when served cold. Fresh figs and cream appeal very strongly to many people including the writer. Figs are generally somewhat laxative. Dried figs should be unsulphured. Preserved figs are not recommended.
MELONS are regarded with suspicion by many people and it is true they sometimes will give one a kick. if the diet is especially faulty and highly acid forming melons are apt to apparently disagree. In such instances the melons are avoided and the faulty diet continues to go from bad to worse.
Melons should be allowed to ripen on the vine, but like many other fruits and vegetables they are frequently gathered prematurely and the result it not only disappointing but something of value is lost.
A visit to a watermelon patch will disclose facts of scientific interest to either physician or layman. Along about twelve or one oclock on a bright sunny day all the melons connected to the living vine will be cool and any that are separated from the vine will be red hot. Circulation is going on in the former, the latter are either dead or dying.
The experiment has been made of placing a 300 pound weight just over a small watermelon so that it can gradually take the load as growth occurs. Believe it or not, a melon has successfully lifted the entire 300 pounds and although the contour of the fruit was flattened it never the less made the grade, a straight upward thrust against tremendous odds. Such is the silent force and mysterious power of living things.
The practice of using either sugar or salt on melons is merely the expression of a perverted taste acquired through habit. Like other useless or harmful habits it can be broken and forgotten. New tastes and preferences can be acquired in a surprisingly short time. Lemon juice combines well with either cantaloupes or honey-dew melons and is not detrimental in any way. Unripe melons are always uninviting. Overripe and fermenting melons should be absolutely avoided as they are apt to cause gastro-intestinal irritation.
When melons of any kind seem to disagree one should make certain of two things before avoiding their use. First try to obtain vine ripened fruit in the very pink of condition. If they still disagree try eating them for either breakfast or lunch without anything else. Melons do not always combine well with a complex meal. If they agree they may be eaten not only at meal time but between meals or upon retiring if desired.