Category Archives: Dining

Dining Men

An Hermeticall kinde of life

Roger Crab (c.1616-1680) was a famous vegetarian and hermit. The following snippets, written by the printer, come from the introduction to his book, The English Hermite (1654).

That which is most strange and most to be admired, is his strange reserved and Hermeticall kinde of life, in refusing to eat any sort of flesh, and [he] saith it is a sinne against his body and soul to eat flesh, or to drinke any Beer, Ale, or Wine; his dyet is onely such poore homely foode as his own Rood of ground beareth, as Corne, Bread, and Bran, Hearbs, Roots, Dock-leaves, Mallowes, and Grasse. His drink is water, his aparrell is as meane also, he weares a sackcloth frock, and no band on his neck: and this he saith is out of conscience, and in obedience to that command of Christ.

He is well read in the Scriptures, he hath argued strongly with severall Ministers in the Country, about this and other strange opinions which he holds; but I will not be so tedious to the reader as to mention them all; he approves of civill Magistracy, and is neither for the Levelers, nor Quakers, nor Shakers, nor Ranters, but above Ordinances. He was seven years in the Warres for the Parliament; he is the more to be admired that he is alone in this opinion of eating, which though it be an error, it is an harmelesse error.

One more remarkable thing hee told me: That when hee was in Clarken-well Prison, the 17. of this January, 1654, his Keeper having a prejudice against him, ordered the Prisoners not to let him have bread with his water, and shut him downe in the hole all night. The next morning, being something hungry, walking in the Prison yard, there came a Spanniell which walked after him three or foure turnes, with a peece of bread in his mouth. He looked upon him, and wondered why the Dog walked (as he thought) with a Chip in his mouth. He looked at the Dogge, and it layd downe: and perceiving it was bread, he walked away againe, and the Dog walked after him with it againe, then he stooped, and the Dog layd it downe to his hand, then he tooke and wiped it, and eate it.

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Dining Household Medicine

It often makes Men Paralytick

These snippets come from The Natural History of COFFEE, THEE, CHOCOLATE, TOBACCO. In four several Sections; WITH A TRACT OF Elder and Juniper-Berries (1682).

As for the qualities and nature of Coffee, our own Countryman, Dr Willis, has publish’d a very rational Account. He says that in several Headachs, Dizziness, Lethargies, and Catarrahs, where there is a gros habit of Body, and a cold heavy Constitution, there Coffee may be proper and successful: and in these cases he sent his Patients to the Coffee-House rather than to the Apothecaries Shop. The Dr makes one unlucky observation of this Drink, that it often makes Men Paralytick, and does so slacken their strings, as they become unfit for sports, and exercises of the Bed, and their Wives recreations.

A Persian King, named Sultan Mahoment Caswin, who reigned in Persia, was so accustomed to drinking Coffee that he had an unconceivable aversion to Women, and that the Queen standing one day at her Chamber Window, and perceiving they were about gelding a Horse, ask’d some standers by, why they treated so handom a Creature in that manner; whereupon answere was made her that he was too fiery and mettlesome. The Queen reply’d that trouble  might have been spar’d, since Coffee would have wrought the same effect, the experience being already try’d upon the King her Husband.

Coffee is said to be very good for those that have taken too much Drink, Meat, or Fruit, also against shortness of Breath and Rheum. Arabian Women are observ’d to promote their Monthly courses with Coffee, and to tipple constantly at it all the time they are flowing.

As for the manner of preparing Coffee, the Europeans do peel and take off the outward skin of the Berries, which being so prepar’d, are Bak’d, and Burnt, afterwards grinded to Powder; one Ounce of which they mix commonly with a Pint and a half of hot Water, which has been boyl’d half away, then they are digested together, till they are well united.

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Dining Household

A man who writes on cheese

These snippets come a very curious little pamphlet entitled The Generous Usurer (1641). Essentially a dialogue between a maid and a nurse, it tells the story of their penny-pinching master and a curious incident over some cheese.

Maid: I will tell you what I heard my Master say even now of you.

Nurse: What did he say? I pray thee tell me.

Maid: He said that he would turn away you, and me: you tomorrow, and me the day after.

Nurse: How can I go away, and my Mistresse so ill? Thou talkest strangely; or thou either, why what is the matter with him now? It is the strangest man, he is never contented, never quiet.

Maid: Truly I must needs say that he is very miserable, for I did live with him when he was a Widower.

Nurse: Was he not then more generous and free than he is now?

Maid: Free? I will tell you how free he was; I was all the family he had, and he gave me but 18s a year, and we lay in bed commonly till 9 or 10 in the morning; and we went to bed before candle light to save charges; and he would let me make but one meal a day for the most part and that was with a black pudding to dinner, and a half penny loaf, except by chance sometimes he cut me a slice of bread and cheese, and that very thin: which he always used to lock up in the Cubboard himself, because he would not trust me with it.

Nurse: Had you no supper then never, nor breakfast? Oh monstrous, I never heard of the like: But what drink did he allow you? I hope you kept a good vessel of drink in the house.

Maid: We had always a firkin of foure shilling Beere in the house, but I could never come at it, except I went to him for the key which was very irksome.

Nurse: Oh fie upon it; how could you endure to dwell with him?

Maid: One morning he was called forth to goe to Grayes-Inne, and as it seemes knew that he should stay forth; and therefore left me the bread and cheese out; which was, I confesse, a great favour from him; for he doth so very seldome; but he had written upon the Cheese, which was about half a Cheese, within about an inch of the edge, he had written these words; Cut this Cheese even; and so it fortuned that about three hours, a friend of mine came to see me, who, when he came, I was glad that I had the bread and Cheese to set before him; and did therefore desire him to sit downe. But here was the mischiefe, that he espied this writing upon the Cheese, which he read, and knowing my Master to be a miserable covetous fellow, conceived that he writ it from a niggardly disposition, and therefore drew out his knife & cuts it quite through the Cheese very handsomely, and cut about halfe the Cheese, which was two or three pounds at the least, and when he had done, he took his pen and inke out of his pocket and writ very neare the edge: Is not this Cheese cut even; and put the rest in his pocket; and after some few words of discourse between us, he took his leave of me: but I was in a terrible perplexitie to see him carry away the Cheese, yet I was ashamed to forbid him. But even now my Master came in, and found his Cheese gone, but oh how he cryed out against me for his Cheese; then he called me a whore and went to complain to the neighbours that I have let in theeves to rob him; which God knows was nothing but a piece of bread and Cheese, which I promised to pay him out of my wages, but he would not heare me speake.

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Booze Dining Medicine

A naturall drinke for a Dutche man

More snippets from Andrew Boorde’s A compendious regiment or a dietary of healthe (1547).


Ale is made of malte and water, and they the which do put any other thinge to ale except yeast, barme, or godesgood, doth sophisticate their ale. Ale for an English man is a natural drinke. Ale must have these properties, it must be freshe & cleare, it muste not be ropy nor smoky, nor muste it have no weft nor taile.  Ale should not be drunke under five daies olde. Newe ale is unwholesome for all men. And soure ale and that which doth stande a-tilt is good for no man. Barley malte maketh better ale than oaten malt or any other corne doth, it dothe engendre grosse humours, but yet it maketh a man stronge.

Beere is made of malte, of hoppes, and water, it is a naturall drinke for a Dutche man. And nowe of late daies it is muche used in Englande to the detriment of many Englishmen, specially it killeth those which be troubled with the colicke & the stone & the strangulion, for the drinke is a colde drinke: yet it doth make a man fat, & doth inflate the belly, as it doth appeare by the Dutche mens faces & bellies. If the beere be well brewed and fined, it dothe qualifye the heate of the liver.

Cyder is made of the juice of peares, or of the juice of apples, & other while cider is made of both, but the best cyder is made of cleane peares the which be dulcet, but yet best is not praised in physicke, for cyder is colde of operation, and is full of bentosite, wherefore it doth engendre evill humours, and doth swage to mocke the naturall heate of man, & doth let digestion, and dothe hurte the stomacke, but they the which be used to it, if it be drunken in harvest it doeth littell harme.

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