POULTRY AS A FOOD
POULTRY is the term used to designate birds that have been domesticated, or brought under the control of man, for two purposes, namely, the eggs they produce and the flesh food they supply. All the
common species of domestic fowls--chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowls, and pigeons--are known as poultry.
However, none of these species is included under this term unless it is raised for at least one of the two purposes mentioned. As the term is to be understood in this Section, poultry includes all domestic fowls that are killed in order that their flesh may be cooked and used as food for human beings. Of course, many wild birds are killed for the flesh food they furnish, but they are classed under the term game.
Poultry is probably never a necessity in the ordinary dietary, and when prices are high it is a decided luxury. Still it does aid materially in relieving the monotony of the usual protein foods, and it
supplies that "something out of the ordinary" for special occasions.
Then, too, it is often valuable in the diet of an invalid or some person with a poor appetite. Poultry is, of course, used more in some homes than in others; yet there is scarcely a home in which it is not served some time or another. A knowledge of this food and its preparation and serving will therefore prove to be a valuable asset to any housewife.
To arrive at a knowledge of the use of poultry as a food, the housewife must necessarily become familiar with its selection and purchase. Then she must give attention to both its preparation for cooking and its actual cooking, and, finally, to its serving. In all these matters she will do well to adhere to the practice of economy, for, at best, poultry is usually an expensive food. Before entering into these matters in detail, however, it will be well to look into them in a general way.
In the selection of poultry, the housewife should realize that poultry breeders have so developed certain breeds, even of the same species, that they are better for table use than others. The flesh of any breed of poultry may be improved by feeding the birds good food and giving them proper care; and it is by applying these principles that the breeders are enabled to better the quality of this food.
Other things also influence the quality of poultry flesh as food, as, for example, the way in which the poultry is prepared for market and the care it receives in transportation and storage. Unless these are as they should be, they have a detrimental effect on poultry, because such food is decidedly perishable.
It is possible to exercise economy in the purchase of poultry, but before the housewife can do this she must be able to judge the age of each kind she may desire. On the age depends to a great extent the
method of cookery to be followed in preparing the poultry for the table.
Likewise, she must know the marks of cold-storage poultry, as well as those of poultry that is freshly killed; and she must be familiar
with the first marks of deterioration, or decay, that result from storing the food too long or improperly.
Economy may also be practiced in preparing poultry for cooking. To bring this about, however, the housewife should realize that the best method of preparing any kind of poultry for cooking is always the
most economical. It means, too, that she should understand thoroughly the methods of drawing and cutting, so that she may either do this work herself or direct it.