This one gave me the giggles, from Kottke:

In paintings of the Last Supper done over the past 1000 years, the portion sizes of the food depicted have increased by 69%.

From the 52 paintings, which date between 1000 and 2000 A.D., the sizes of loaves of bread, main dishes and plates were calculated with the aid of a computer program that could scan the items and rotate them in a way that allowed them to be measured. To account for different proportions in paintings, the sizes of the food were compared to the sizes of the human heads in the paintings.

The "Bacon Mug" filled with cheddar cheese, from



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2 responses to “Giggles

  1. i found two things really interesting about the article:
    1) it’s framed as being about obesity rather than rising wealth, increased agricultural productivity, and the conquest of famine — a curious and somewhat parochial sense of priorities
    2) the entrees were usually “eel, lamb, or pork.” lamb makes a lot of sense in both a historical and theological sense, but the other two dishes would be rather unusual things for a group of 13 observant Jews to be eating at a seder.

  2. Jenn Lena

    You raise two excellent points. I considered writing about the first, especially since I would have assumed the obesity-blamed-on-portion-size thing was a uniquely American obsession, rather than something that we would expect in paintings created (in some part) in Europe.

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