It may be difficult for some to picture a time where advice given by many of the foremost thinkers in nutrition was as simple as a catch phrase. Admittedly, much of the council our Victorian ancestors received is now easily dismissed. “Guinness is good for you”, the aphorism that revolted Gordon Comstock by its inanity in Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying is now a relic of the time of the advertising firm. One of my personal favourites from the era of Victoria and Dickens comes from an American fellow by the name of Horace Fletcher.
Known by his followers as The Great Masticator, Fletcher advocated a peculiar dietary regimen. To put it tersely, “Nature will castigate those who don’t masticate.” And those Fletcherizers, who in their homes, or at restaurants, day and night, chewed each and every piece of their meal thirty-two times before swallowing; every piece of steak, chunk of potato, spoonful of soup, or swig of wine (indeed, he advocated that liquids receive the same treatment) believed that this had a direct and positive effect on their health. Understandably, the man probably saved several people from choking to death, but one must ask, “at what cost?”
If any of you have by chance, unsuspectingly popped a faulty piece of chewing gum into your mouths, perhaps from a batch that had the ingredients mixed in the wrong proportions, you may remember the feeling of revulsion that slowly crept over you, as the once materially sound and robust stick began to lose its integrity and crumble into an abject slurry of grainy material sloshing around, sticking to your teeth, forcing you to void the contents of your mouth in a substantial loogie. This, I can only suspect, must be the feeling that comes over a man when Fletcherizing his meal. Since musing on the subject can only take you so far, I decided to try fletcherizing my meals for a day.