While in Seattle, I found a copy of Frederick Kaufman’s “A Short History of the American Stomach” nestled in the grass at the corner of Summit Ave. and Roy St in Capitol Hill. Now, I am by no means a religious person, but I can only interpret my happening upon this book as some sort of sign of something somewhat supreme. This is the book of my life. Not only does it explore America’s longstanding relationship with dietary extremes, it features my favorite Cotton Mather as a major player in gastronomic history AND relays his cure for jaundice: “The urine of a healthy lad, six ounces, with six grams of white sugar; drunk fasting.” Apparently, Cott was also a rampant bulimic. I had no idea. Everything makes sense now.
And then there’s this choice quotation from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s sister-in-law, Mary Mann:
“Every intelligent dyspeptic knows that he is a worse man when suffering under a paroxysm of his malady, than in one his of lucid intervals … Why is not dyspepsia disgraceful, like delirium tremens? When it comes to be so considered, as it assuredly will when the gospel of the body is fully understood, it will be banished from good society.”