I can’t figure out where to get a lump of coal in September. In Los Angeles. In 2013. Not activated charcoal, which is sometimes used by present-day hospitals to help suck up ingested poison. But a plain ole’ lump of dirty coal, like you would use in the 1800s to fuel your stove and give your home that lovely soot smell. This is a problem, because according to a woman with too many names — Lady Mary Anne Boode Cust — in her 1853 title The Invalid’s Own Book, boiling a walnut-sized lump of coal in an pint of milk until it gets thick is “a very nutrative food, and easily obtained.”

Well, at least for me, that second part is a lie. And sweet jeebus — coal milk? As if it didn’t already suck to get… More…