Biology in the Kitchen

H. P. Priestley


Biology is that science which deals with the study of plants and animals. We might treat our subject from several different points of view. We might consider the various types of plant and animal life which may occur in kitchens. We might consider the products of animals and plants which go to make up the very varied foods which may be dealt with in the kitchen. It is with this latter aspect with which I shall deal in the main. Biologists divide plants and animals into classes from the very simplest to the most complex. Thus with animals we have at one end of the scale the very simple single-celled organism, the amoeba. At the other end of the scale we have man. Similarly, with plants, we have at one end of the scale the bacteria, yeasts and simple moulds, and at the other end the great trees and flowering plants. These various classes of plants and animals vary considerably in form and complexity of structure, and they differ also in chemical composition, and so in availability as sources of food for the higher animals and man. Man obtains food from many of these classes of plants and animals, but by no means froin all of them. Now what do we require in foodstuffs to make them suitable for man? We classify food constituents into five main groups : proteins, carbohydrates, fats, mineral salts and vitamins. There are also other things not so necessary, still often making a large difference in the palatability of foods, such as flavouring agents.