From the papers of Edmund George Valpy Knox (1881 - 1971), comic writer, poet and satirist who wrote under the pseudonym Evoe. He was editor of Punch 1932-1949, having been a regular contributor in verse and prose for many years.This piece is probably from the 1950s after his editorship. In the archives is a good pic of him, at present unfindable (will upload soon) - for the moment this below. He was married to the daughter of the Winnie the Pooh illustrator E.H.Shepard. Mary Shepard in her turn illustrated Mary Poppins. His daughter from an earlier marriage was the Booker prize winning novelist Penelope Fitzgerald - known in the family as 'Mops' and author of the book below on the gifted Knox family.
It seems to be the invariable practice of those who are recovering from the fall scourge of influenza; or desire to ward off its attacks, to eat grit. The substance takes various forms, but nearly every family consumes with one or other of its daily meals a spade or shovelful of marl, concretes sawdust, fine gravel, or sand.
The discovery of this new diet basis was providential in the extreme. An eminent doctor was watching an ostrich at the zoo; and noticed the bird devouring several pieces of paving-stone and a couple of bricks. Interested he returned the following day and found the ostrich looking, if anything, fitter than before. Immediately the idea struck him:
"What if vitamins lurk in the gritty part of farinaceous substances., banished by modern mechanical methods of food preparation from our daily fare?"
Analysing a gritty substance he found a vitamin lurking there, and his theory was confirmed.
Grit became instantly one of the most fashionable ingredients of the British breakfast menu. My friends the Wilkinsons emerge refreshed from the following imbroglio each day:
A word as to one or two of the other salient features of this petit dejeuner.
Sour milk was introduced many years ago from Bulgaria. An eminent traveller noticed that Bulgarians never died, and thought that there must be some reason for this, as visitors to Bulgaria were not nearly so fortunate. Analysing a Bulgarian, he found that he was entirely full of sour milk. This led him to suppose that the germ of sour milk is equivalent to the germ of perpetual life; and in many cases the hypothesis has been abundantly proved. More than one septuagenarian viveur has confessed that but for sour milk he would be no more than sixty or sixty five years old today.
Koffum is a beverage practically equivalent in nourishing properties to coffee, except that, instead of containing the harmful ingredient of caffeine, present in coffee, it contains only the nutritious element of caffum, found only in koffum. The rubble mentioned in the second place on the menu may either be pressed gently into the oranges through a hole in the skin, sprinkled over the sour milk, dropped into the koffum or eaten simply with a small trowel at the beginning or the end of the meal.
Now as to lunch, Something a little more substantial will be found necessary by the convalescent or would-be valetudinarian for the second banquet of the day, and will be well advised to fall back on the strong combination of proteins and food-values favoured by my friends the Carruthers, viz:
Liver was not always esteemed by our ancestors as a food basis, but within the last year or two it appears that a well-known biologist noticed that the lion or panther, when enjoying antelope and gazelle, invariably ate the liver first. There must, he thought, be some reason in Nature for this partiality. Analysing a liver, he found it to be full of ultraviolet rays and hypophosphates, which the lion or anther was obviously determined to secure at once and before he could be interrupted in his repast.
In ordering rice-pudding the reveller should see to it that the grain has not been polished or had the husk removed being thereby robbed of its nutritive powers. A very simple experiment will prove the importance of this precautionary measure.
Take any Polynesian native and feed him for three weeks on polished rice. At the expiration of that period he will be extinct. Nov, take another Polynesian native and feed him for the same length of time on unhusked rice, and he will instantly survive. This may prove a little awkward to the experimenter, who will not know what to do with him, but he can always be got rid of once more by feeding him on the polished grain.
At restaurants, if any suspicion is entertained that the rice has been husked before cooking, the chef and the head waiter and, where possible, a Polynesian native should be summoned in order that a protest may be mc-de at once.
The dinner menu should not vary greatly from the midday meal, except that it may be a little more extended. An attractive banquet served recently at a gathering of health-fiends, to which I was invited, comprised the following courses:
On fast-days during lent a lobster mousse may be substituted for the swan pie.
Garlic, well understood by our ancestors to be a sovereign remedy against werewolves and vampires, has only recently returned to its own. Almost any kind of sand will do, or, failing sand, the fine red gravel used in the manufacture of hard tennis-courts. It will be found a perfect preliminary to the succeeding strata of the meal. The virtues of tripe have long been a household word in Harley Street, and a well-known sexagenarian sex-novelist stated only the other day: 'I owe my existence entirely to tripe.'
Both swan and lobster contain infra-red rays, and college pudding is rich in many of the constituent amygaloids found only in raison seeds and twigs.
No one need fear the advent of March winds who makes a practice of limiting his diet during that month to the simple tariff I have prescribed above. But the grit is most important of all. In nearly every case where a hale and rubicund man or woman is encountered in the street they will be found upon analysis to contain chaff, wood fibre) wheat husks, seed-pods, and marl.