By David Draper
Another piece of news from that venerable British newspaper The Guardian. This one is about how eating might affect your mood. "Foods to be avoided: beefe, venison, hare, heavy wines, cabbage, fresh-water fish." With these words the 17th-century Oxford don Robert Burton outlined – in The Anatomy of Melancholy – his recipe for avoiding depression and achieving mental wellbeing. What you ate determined your happiness and soundness.
Hare was to be shunned with particular vigour, he argued. It is "hard of digestion, breedes incubus… and causeth feerful Dreames. So doth all Venison". The article is particularly timely because I was recently out for breakfast with my girlfriend, who was having trouble deciding what to order. She really wanted the chicken-fried steak and eggs, but was afraid it wouldn’t live up to her high expectations and thus ruin her entire day.* As crazy as this sounds, it’s true. Food has that kind of effect on her, which is both endearing and, at times, maddening.
It’s not that eating doesn’t affect my mood. It does, but not to that extent, and certainly venison or hare does not “breed incubus” or “causeth fearful Dreames”. Instead, eating wild game always makes me happy, unless it’s the last antelope backstrap in the freezer, at which time it does induce a bit of melancholy.