A Present for a Servant-Maid: Going to Market
How to chuse FLESH.
Beef.] The right Ox Beef is best, and that which is so has a fine open Grain : If it be young, it has a kind of oily Smoothness, and if you dent it with your Finger will immediately rise again but if old, it will be rough and spungy, and the Dent remain;
Cow Beef is less boned than that of the Ox, the Flesh closer grain'd, the Lean of it somewhat paler, and the Fat whiter; but if young, the Dent you make with your Finger will rise again. Bull Beef is closer grain'd than either, more coarse, and if you pinch it, feels rough: The Fat is hard and skinny, and has a certain Rankness in the Scent, tho' it be ever so fresh killed.
Mutton.] When Mutton is young, the Flesh will pinch tender, and the Fat part easily from the Lean; but if old, the one will wrinkle and remain so for some Time, and the other not be pull'd off without Difficulty, by reason of a great Number of little Strings: Old Mutton may also be known when the Flesh shrinks from the Bones, and the Skin is loose : In Ewe Mutton the Flesh is of a paler Colour than the Weather, and of a closer Grain.
If there happens to be a Rot among the Sheep, the Fat will be inclining to yellow, and the Flesh very pale, loose from the Bone, and if you squeeze it hard, a Dew like Sweat will rise upon it.
Veal.] The Flesh of a Bull Calf is more red, and has a firmer Grain than that of a Cow Calf, and the Fat will harder, The Butchers about London have so many Arts in blowing up their Veal, and keeping it in wet Cloths, that you cannot be too careful in examining the Scent, for what looks beautiful to the Eye may prove musty.
Lamb.] House Lamb, when good, is very fat, the Lean of it Looks of a pale pink Colour, and the Fat is exceeding white. Grass Lamb is somewhat of a higher Colour, but the Fat is also white : In a Fore Quarter of either you must observe the Neck Vein ; if it looks of a fine, light blue, it is fresh killed ; but if greenish or yellowish, it is stale. In a Hind Quarter, smell under the Kidney, and try the Knuckle, if it be limber, and you meet with a faint Scent, do not venture to buy it.
Pork.] If it be young and fresh, thc Flesh will look of a fine bright vColour, bUt not too red; the, Skin will be thin and if you nip it with your Nails the Impression will remain but if the Lean be high colour'd, the Fat flabby and the Rind hard, it is old, or any Part feel clammy, it is stale.
If you find many small Kernels in the Fat, like Hail-shot, it is certainly meazly, and dangerous to be eaten.
Bacon.] Bacon may also be known, if young or old, by the Thickness or Thinness of the Rind. Always chuse that, the Fat of which has a reddish Cast; for if it look quite white, like Tallow or inclined to yellowish, it is stark naught. That Bacon which gives, and becomes flabby in moist Weather, has not been well cured, and is either rusty, or will very soon be so.
Westphalia, or English Hams.] Both these are to be tried by putting a Knife under the Bone that sticks out; and is it comes out in a manner clean, and has a curious Flavour, the Ham is sweet and good; is, on the contrary, it is much smeer'd and sully'd and smells rank, the Ham was either tainted before it was dried, or grown rusty afterwards,
All Sorts of fresh Fish may be judged by the Redness of their Gills, if no Deceit be used; but as there is sometimes an Impostion by wetting them with Blood, you must observe whether they are stiff, if their Eyes stand out and full, and their Fins and Tails are not shrivelled; for if these Symptoms do not answer, they are stale, notwithstanding the Redness of their Gills.
Plaice and Flounders.] As Plaice and Flounders will live a long Time out of the Water, whoever buys them after they are dead, may find them sweet, but their Substance will be so far spent, that they will almost dissolve in the Water they are boiled in, and afford neither an agreeable Relish to the Palate, nor Nourishment to the Stomach. To distinguish Plaice from Flounders, the latter are somewhat thicker, are of a darker brown, and have small Specks of Orange Colour; the Plaice have Spots too, but they are not so bright, and of a larger Size, The best Sort of both are blueish, on the Belly.
Whitings] These are Fish, which if not extremely stiff when you buy them, will neither broil nor boil.
Salmon.] To buy this Fish you must examine the Grain and Colour as you do in Butcher's Meat; if the one be fine, and the other high and florid, the Salmon is good ; but if coarse and pale, it is bad: When it is perfectly new, a great Quantity of Blood will issue from it when it is cut, and the Liver look very clear, almost transparent.
Capon.] If a Capon be Young, his Spurs are short, and his Legs smooth; if a true Capon, a fat Vein on the Side of the Breast, the Comb pale, and a thick Belly and Rump; if new, a close hard Vent; if stale a loose open one.
A Cock and Hen.] If young, his Spurs are short and dubb'd; but you must be careful in taking notice whether they are not pared or scraped by the Poulterer, in order to deceive you. You may know if he is new by the Vent, in the same Manner as you do judge of Capon, and so also of a Hen; but if young, her Legs and Comb are smooth, if old they are tough.
Cock or Hen Turkey, Turkey Poults.] If the Cock be young, his Legs will be black and smooth, and his Spurs short; if old the contrary: If stale, his Eyes will be sunk, and his Feet hard and dry, and if new, the Eyes will look lively, and the Feet pliable. The like Observation you may make of the Hen; and moreover, if she be with Egg, she will have an open Vent, if not, a hard close Vent. Turkey Poults are known the same Way, as to being new or stale, and you cannot be deceived in their Age.
Goose.] If the Bill of a Goose be yellow, and she have but few Hairs, she is young; but if there are many, and the Bill and Feet red, she is old: If new, limber; if stale, hard and stiff in all her Parts. Never chuse a Goose that is nor very fleshy on the Breast; and fat in the Rump.
Duck.] A Duck is every way to be judged in the same Manner as a Goose.
Chicken.] You cannot well be deceived in Chickens; only take this for a Rule, that the white-legg'd are in general the best, and taste the sweetest.
Wild Duck.] A right Wild Duck has a reddish Foot, and smaller than the tame one; the Marks of being young or old, new or stale, are the same as with the others.
Woodcock or Snipe.] A Woodcock ought to be thick, fat, and the Flesh firm; the Nose dry, and the Throat clear, otherwise they are naught. Snipe if young and fat, has a full Vein under the Wing, and feels thick in the Vent. As for the rest like the Woodcock.
Partridge.] When the Bill of a Partridge is white, and the Legs look blueish, it shews Age, for if young, the Bill is black, and the Legs yellowish. To know if new or stale, smell at their Mouths.
Pidgeons.] Old Pidgeons have generally red Legs, and are blackish in some Parts, If young and new, the Flesh looks all of one Colour, and are sat in the Vent.
And thus of grey or green Plover, Fellfare, Blackbirds, Thrush, Larks, and Wild Fowl in general.
Hare.] A Hare is white and stiff when new and clean kill'd; if stale, the Flesh will have a blackish Hue. If the Cleft in her Lips spread very much, and her Claws are wide and ragged, she is old; the contrary when young.
Leveret.] To know a true Leveret, feel on the fore Leg near the Foot, and if there be a small Bone or Knob, it is right; if not, it is no Leveret but a Hare; and for the rest of the Marks, you must judge as of a Hare.
Rabbit.] The Wild Rabbit is better than the Tame; to distinguish the one from the other, you must observe the Head, which is more picked in the Wild than the Tame. If it is old, there will be a great deal of yellowish Fat about the Kidneys, the Claws will be long, and the Wool rough and mottled with grey Hairs; if young the Reverse. For being new killed, you must judge by the Scent.
BUTTER, CHEESE and EGGS
Butter.] When you buy fresh Butter, trust not to the Taste the Person gives you; for they often patch a Piece of good Butter at the End, when the rest is naught; but run your Knife into the Middle, and if it comes out with a fine sweet Flavour, the Butter is good.
You must also observe that there are no Crumblings stick about the Knife; for if so, the Butter, tho' it may be well-tasted at present, has not been well work'd up, and will not keep. As for Salt Butter, having tasted it, and found it to your Palate, make them cut you what quantity you want out of the Middle; for the Tub is apt to give an ill Flavour to that Part which touches it. If one Cheesemonger refuses to do this, go to another; but if you carry ready Money, there is no Danger of his turning you away but those who go on Credit must take up with it.
Cheese.] The best Cheese, whether of Cheshire, Gloucester, or Warwickshire, has generally a rough moist Coat, but if too much of the latter, is apt to breed Maggots. Always chuse that which has a, fine yellow cast, and is close made.
Eggs.] The best Eggs are those which have a clear thin Shell, are of the longest Oval, and most picked at the Ends. As for the Newness of them, hold them before the Light, and if the White is clear, and the Yolk flows regularly in the Midst, you may depend on their being good, and the contrary when the White looks cloudy, and the Yolk sinks which way soever you hold it.