Monday, 16 January 2017

28 May 1881 - 'On Summer Drinks' by Medicus

The day was very hot, and I felt both dry and drowsy,  for the office gasogene was empty. No wonder as I sat, almost nodding, in my arm-chair, that my thoughts wandered away from the busy toiling town to bloomy dales and woodland scenes; no wonder that I presently roused myself up, and, fixing the Editor with my eagle eye, addressed him as follows:-

"I'd have a cottage where the south wind came
Cool from the spicy pines, or with a breath
Of the mid-ocean salt upon its lips,
And a low lulling, dreamy sound of waves,
To breathe upon me where I lay."

But the Editor brought me up sharp, -

"Not to-day, doctor, I can assure you," he said; "you've got to finish that article on summer drinks. After that you can have as many cottages as you like." I gazed sadly on the empty gasogene for a few moments, then with a sigh resumed my pen, and presently I forgot everything else saving my subject, and a very pretty duet the editor's quill and mine made, I do assure you.

But why, fair reader mine, should one sigh to look at an empty gasogene in summer? We seldom trouble ourselves much about this queer machine in winter. The question requires no very deep knowledge of anatomy or physiology to enable us to reply to it: exposure to a more heated atmosphere than usual increases the perspiration of our bodies, both sensible and insensible. When this is carried too far thickening of the blood is the result, and one feels in consequence enervated, languid and depressed, and longs for some cooling beverage to assuage the thirst.

But before going a line further I must warn you, that the excessive use of cooling drinks is most hurtful and injurious, not only to the skin and complexion but to the whole system. I should like every reader of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER to feel as cool in summer as a little cucumber, and as "caller" as a little trout, but with a skin as soft as the petals of a rose, and eyes as pure and bright as an Italian sky. Therefore, I say, whatever beverage you may fancy, sip it. Never drink until thirst is quite assuaged, or you will assuredly drink too much. Let your motto be, "little at a time," but I do not mind how often you drink. Be guided by your own feelings as to that. Excessive thirst is often quenched by allowing the cooling drink to trickle slowly down the throat. But on the other hand, I would have you live during summer in such a way that there would be no occasion for frequent potations of any kind. And if I did not show you how to do this, my present paper would be, in my opinion, anything but complete.

There is a right way, then, and a wrong way of spending the hot days of golden summer time. Winter's pleasures ought never to be carried quite into spring; even indoor parties, and especially close concert-rooms, should be avoided in summer, so should the fatiguing journeys and excursions people so often take, in the oft-time vain search for pleasure. The social circle is now best enjoyed in the cool of the evening, in the moonlit verandah, or seated in the garden beneath the quiet stars. The heat of the mid-day sun should be avoided; fortunate are they who can choose the hottest hours of the day for a siesta in a shaded hammock out of doors. But this is a work-a-day world, and most of us have to toil at noon, as well as any other time. Only there is one thing we can all do and so help to keep ourselves cool and healthy: even in the hottest months of summer, we can dress lightly and wear light coloured garments, and we can alter the kind of food we eat to suit the weather. We ought to carefully avoid all kinds of heavy indigestible food, rich soups and gravies, fat meats and over-stimulating condiments, and we should eat more sparingly; and although we ought to be cautious in the use of cheese, salads ought to be eaten every day. And yet how very few of the fair sex know how to compound a delicious salad! I think if some of my readers knew the effect for good upon the blood and the complexion that salads have, they would study how to make them.

"Does your daughter play?" I asked an American with whom I was dining last year in Philadelphia.

"Well, no, and that's the truth," he replied somewhat disconsolately. After a few moments' pause he brightened up as he added:-

"She don't play, sir, but you just wait till you see the salad she'll put in front of you."

And if you would be well in summer, if you would be cool in body and in mind, and if you would feel and look strong, do not forget the morning tub and the rough bath towel. Mind I don't hold with excessive bathing; once a day immediately after getting up take the sponge bath, and once a week before going to bed a nice tepid soap bath, followed by a sponge full or two of cold water.

Early rising in summer is greatly to be recommended. A young girl ought to get up soon after the birds do.

But it is time, you will say, that I should tell you something about summer drinks. Well, I shall tell you first that neither beer nor stout nor porter is suitable for warm weather; nor is champagne, the effects of exhilaration produced by it are only momentary, but claret cup and, better still, sauterne cup may be partaken of in moderation, after or during exertion. Such out-door games as lawn tennis should always, in my opinion, be played either early in the forenoon or in the evening during summer.

I may remind you that the hottest part of the day is from one o'clock till three. A great many girls think that their complexion will not be injured by the sun, unless his rays shine directly on the face; and they wear veils or sun hats to protect themselves; but they should bear in mind that exercise or over-exertion during the hottest hours of the day, is far more detrimental to the skin than sunshine.

Both tea and cocoa are refreshing as summer beverages, and not only refreshing but soothing and cooling as well. The cocoa should be the best procurable. I recommend cocoatina, which is neither adulterated with sugar nor with starch. Its good effects will be appreciated if taken in the forenoon, just before going out walking or for exercise of any kind. It should be taken warm but not too hot, and with milk and sugar. Tea on the other hand is most valuable in the afternoon of, say, a warm or sultry summer's day. It should be pretty strong, because much should not be drunk; it ought to be the cheapest tea you can buy, and the cheapest tea, mind you, is that for which you will have to pay the longest price. Bad tea is worse than useless. Do not drink tea too hot, do not drink it at all, but sip it. When taking tea talk on subjects light as air, and do not let what you eat be very much heavier. It would, methinks, be a blessing to our country if everyone knew the value of cold tea as a beverage  for the traveller. I have travelled a great deal by train, and very long journeys, and I find there is nothing to equal it. I have it made before I start, milk and sugar added, and bottle it and place it in my bag. Thus armed I am secure against thirst, and to a great extent against fatigue as well, and I run no risk of being injured by bad beverages at railway stations.

To those who can afford it some or other of the various aerated waters – Vichy, potash, soda, or seltzer water – either plain or mixed with some kind of flavouring, form the most wholesome drink for a warm summer's day. These waters are, of course, all the better if iced, but they cannot be drunk in large quantities with impunity. This should be remembered by those who partake of them, nor is it a good plan to make too large a use of ice in hot weather; it interferes very materially with the process of digestion, and if carried to excess will induce positive disease.

I must also warn my readers against over-indulgence sin any of the numerous medicated waters, with which the market is at present flooded. Taken occasionally, some of them are undoubtedly tonic in their effect, but if persisted in for any length of time the drugs, such as iron and phosphorus, &c., which they contain, accumulate in the system and produce the most distressing symptoms. This is a fact which cannot be too widely known.

Aerated iced waters form the basis of a great many cooling drinks. Soda-water may now be bought very cheaply and economically on the syphon system. The syphon flask should be kept in the ice chest, and, if desired, the draught may be nicely flavoured with any of the various fruit syrups, which your grocer will supply you with cheaply. Where there is a large family the gasogene may be used, otherwise I cannot recommend its use, as the water left in it for any time is apt to get flat. When the summer's heat seems to be telling too much upon one, a very nice drink may be composed as follows, and used every day for a fortnight, three times a day or even four times. It is made of dilute phosphoric acid five drops, tincture of quinine thirty or forty drops, and a little syrup of oranges, mixed in a tumblerful of iced soda-water. Another excellent tonic drink is composed of extract of malt in soda-water, flavoured with a little tincture of oranges. The dose of the extract is from a dessertspoonful to a tablespoonful three times a day; if a little tincture of quinine is mixed with the drink the tonic properties are of course increased.

I cannot speak too highly of soda-water and milk as a summer drink on a warm day; it is soothing, nourishing and refreshing. You see that soda-water may be made the basis of a great variety of drinks. If ice be bought, and you have no ice-chest, either keep it in a box of sawdust, or roll it round with thick blanket-cloth. A box of sawdust is the better plan; it will keep ice almost any length of time.

A few drops of tincture of ginger in a bottle of sweetened soda-water is a very reviving drink. Ginger is aromatic, tonic, and stimulating. Tincture of ginger can be had of any chemist, only be careful to make him mark the strength or ordinary dose on the phial.

Here is a cheap and wholesome summer drink: A tablespoonful of lime juice in a glass of pure cold water, sweetened to taste, with or without a little tincture of ginger, and half a teaspoonful of carbonate of soda added to make it effervesce. Mind it is lime juice, not lime cordial. This lime juice may be added to soda-water or plain water and syrup.

Apples, pared and sliced, and steeped in water over night, form a nice summer drink.

There are various kinds of sherbet powders sold by the chemists, which effervesce when mixed with water. I can recommend them all except ginger-beer powders. They are not nice.

Ginger beer itself is one of the most wholesome summer drinks I know, and can be drunk ad libitum; only make it yourself. "Medicus" need not give you a recipe for this – you can get one in any cookery book almost. What is sold as ginger beer in glass bottles is not good. But ginger ale is an excellent beverage for summer use.

Spruce beer is another capital drink.

New milk, drunk in the morning, warm from the cow, will support you wonderfully in hot weather; and, last, but not least, as a summer drink, comes one which deserves to be put in capital letters and have a whole line to itself; I mean


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