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Moffett, Thomas (1553-1604) Healths Improvement: or, Rules Comprizing and Discovering the Nature, Method, and Manner of Preparing all sorts of Food.
London: Printed by Tho. Newcomb for Samuel Thomson, 1655.
First edition, quarto, with imprimatur leaf, signatures Hh, Ff, & Gg bound out of order: Ee, Hh, Ff, Gg, Ii with contemporary MS. notes pointing out the fault; bound in modern full leather, decorated in blind, red spine label, with library stamps on verso of imprimatur (one unsuccessfully removed), blind stamps to title and a few places in the text, presentation inscription dated 1867 written between the lines of the title; 7 1/4 x 4 1/2 in.
Moffett, a Cambridge-educated physician, obtained his medical degree on the continent, and his knowledge of French, Italian, German, and Spanish cuisine is on display in this work, in addition to his conversancy with his native dishes. He begins with a discussion of diet in general and dedicates subsequent chapters to the health effects of the consumption of wild and tame flesh, birds, organ meat, milk and other dairy products, eggs, blood, fish, fruits of orchard, garden, and field, and even includes a discussion of breadmaking, salt, sugar, and spice. He concludes with his thoughts on what quantity and quality of meat one ought to eat, and finally "the time, order, and manner of eating." Much of the incidental information conveyed by Moffett regarding daily life is not found disclosed in other published works of the period. For example, he names varieties of fowl kept on farms, a true list of 17th century British heritage breeds. Regional and national traditions and preferences are also noted. "Cowbiefe is supposed by the Irish people, and also by the Normans in France to be best of all: neither do they account so much Oxen; either because they think them unperfit creatures, or rather (as I take it) because they know not how to use and diet them in the gelding." (page 60)