Some of you may not like this, but please, persevere to the end. It will be worth it. I promise.
The Hippocratic Corpus is chock full of weird and wonderful procedures and medicines – some that seem like a good idea (like the many recommendations for vino), some that will make you cringe (no one wants to fumigate their lady parts with foul smelling pastes*) and others that could straight up kill you (I’m looking at you, hellebore).
And then there are those that are just odd. They make you do a double take to make sure you read the passage right. Then look up the meaning of the original Greek to make sure that it’s been translated right.
And that’s what brings us to puppies.
A few times throughout the Hippocratic Corpus, I’ve seen the prescription of puppy-eating. For example, in the text Regimen, the author writes:
“Dogs’ flesh dries, heats, and affords strength, but does not pass by stool. The flesh of puppies moistens and passes by stool, still more by urine.”
This prescription is seen again in Epidemics 7.62:
“Alcman was recovering from nephritic affections and, when blood was removed below, the disease was diverted up along the liver and towards the heart. The pain was terrible and his breathing was checked by the suffering. And the bowels, with difficulty, produced small pellets. There was no nausea, but shivering at times and fever seized him, and sweat and vomiting. And in the midst of the pain it did not help to give seawater clysters; there was help from bran-husk clysters. He abstained from food for seven days, drank melicrat [~honeyed wine] in a strong mixture. Afterwards bean broth and sometimes thin pea soup; he drank water; later some boiled young dog, and a little barely cake which had been made as long as before as possible. As time went on either beef neck-meat or pork leg-bones, boiled. The previous day, drinking water, quiet, keeping covered. For the nephritic condition, a clyster of wild cucumber.”
I’m sure poor Alcman would love to know that we’re still reading about his bowel movements two thousand years later.
Anyway, as is especially illustrated in the second passage, it was thought that puppy flesh (I’m so sorry that I just had to write that) was tender and delicate enough to nourish those who were ill and unable to handle harsh foods. You can see how Alcman’s diet became increasingly substantial as he regained strength – evidently puppy falls somewhere between thin pea soup and barley cakes.
And clysters are exactly what you think they are.
Now. I’ve promised you recipes.
I am not a monster. I do not advocate the eating of puppies – or any other pet, for that matter. I would also like to point out that, as far as I’m aware, the eating of puppy has no medicinal value. PLEASE DON’T EAT THE PUPPIES.
Rather, I’m including my mom’s recipe for puppy chow – not the puppy kind, but the people kind. Pam always whips up a giant batch of this stuff around Christmas and then piles it into pretty tins as gifts for the mail-lady and neighbors. But why should this chocolate-y, peanut buttery goodness be limited to the holidays? Answer: It shouldn’t.
Pam’s Puppy Chow
- 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
- 6 cups Crispex cereal (or Shreddies if you’re shopping in the UK)
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered/icing sugar
Melt the chocolate in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes (you could also do the double-boiler method if you prefer, but a microwave works fine). Stir the chocolate to make sure it’s evenly melted, then add the peanut butter. Stir again until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture over the cereal in a large bowl and stir until the cereal is evenly coated. Put the powdered/icing sugar in a large freezer bag or storage container. Add the chocolate/peanut butter covered cereal to the powdered/icing sugar holder and shake to coat. Finally, eat it all in one sitting and curl into a ball of self-loathing.
* In the text Places in Man, the Hippocratic author writes: “If the womb only comes forward and it is possible to smear it thoroughly, apply any you like of the ill-smelling substances, either cedar or myssoton [moretum] or any other with a rather heavy and foul smell; and fumigate but do not use a vapour bath.”
We’re going to have to talk about the wandering womb in the very near future.
Hippocrates, Places in Man, ed. and trans. by Elizabeth Craik (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), 47.5 (p. 87).
Hippocrates, Epidemics VI, ed. and trans. by Wesley D. Smith, LCL 477 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994), 7.62 (p. 367).
Hippocrates, Regimen, ed. and trans. by W.H.S. Jones, LCL 150 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1931), 2.46 (p. 317).