Saturday, March 27, 2010

Overeating at the Last Supper

There is a new study of the Last Supper in the International Journal of Obesity (my Bible!) It studies 52 paintings of the Last Supper in the last thousand years and shows that plate size and portions increased dramatically over this time period.

According to this study, the portions were micro-sized at the beginning, barely observable in the paintings. Gradually the plates grew larger and the portions grew more generous until the apostles were depicted as eating a super-sized Seder. The article concludes that the tendency toward overeating is not just a recent phenomenon, but has been a growing cultural problem in the West over the centuries.

What the study does not describe is the menu at the original Last Supper. It was the Passover meal, the holiest celebration in the Hebrew calendar. Each family had roast lamb with all the fixins. Sure they overate. It was the biggest meal of the year! It was the Last Supper after all, not the Last Snack. 

I picture the Last Supper as a Jewish rendition of Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving dinner painting. The only difference is that the father carving the roast beast wears a black hat and sidecurls.

So let's set the record straight. The Last Supper was a feast - the biggest feast of the Jewish year. The apostles ate so much that they could not stay awake in Gethsemane after dinner. They were too full to pray with Jesus. Talk about falling asleep in church while the minister is preaching! These guys dozed off while Jesus was crying out in agony in the garden!

And sure we are fat. I don't need the International Journal of Obesity to tell me that. All I have to do is look in a full-length mirror in the morning. Sure we eat too much. But what does that have to do with the Last Supper?

Let's leave the Lord out of it. And let's not feel guilty for feasting at this holiday season. I for one plan to overeat at an elegant buffet at a nearby country club on Easter Sunday. It's a celebration after all - like the Passover was a celebration. Let's put the guilt in the freezer for one day. I will diet on Monday.

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