Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Wut up G?

'December- A Swallow at Christmas'
George Cruikshank


     Anyone else suffering from holiday overload?  Turkey, ham, sweets, cheeses, alcohol...I mean, how often do you allow yourself to start drinking Champers, gin and rum before noon?  Christmas Eve till today, apparently. 

'Let it be said that of all the deadly sins that mankind may commit, the fifth appears to be the one that least troubles his conscience and causes him the least remorse.'

     Gluttony derives from the Latin verb gluttiere - to gulp down or swallow.  St. Thomas Aquinas listed five ways by which one might commit the sin:

Praepropere - by eating too soon
Laute- by eating too expensively
Nimis- by eating too much
Ardenter- by eating too eagerly
Studiose- by eating too daintily

'Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.'
St. Thomas Aquinas

     Aristotle wrote of Philoxenos, who longed to have the neck of a crane so that he might enjoy his food for longer before it entered his stomach.

 'Said Aristotle unto Plato,
'Have another sweet potato?'
Said Plato unto Aristotle,
'Thank you, I prefer the bottle.'
-Owen Wister
'Gluttony' Hieronymus Bosch
A 1496 image published in Le grant kalendrier des Bergiers
 'Gula' Pieter Bruegel the Elder

     Of course we can always rely on the 'good book' to pile on the guilt.  St. Gregory the Great described five ways by which one can commit the sin of gluttony, and corresponding biblical examples for each of them:

Pope Gregory I

1. Eating before the time of meals in order to satisfy the palate.
Biblical example: Jonathan eating a little honey, when his father Saul commanded no food to be taken before the evening.
2. Seeking delicacies and better quality of food to gratify the 'vile sense of taste.'
Biblical example: When Israelites escaping from Egypt complained, 'Who shall give us flesh to eat ? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers and the melons, and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,' God rained fowls for them to eat but punished them 500 years later.
3. Seeking after sauces and seasonings for the enjoyment of the palate.
Biblical example: Two sons of Eli the high priest made the sacrificial meat to be cooked in one manner rather than another. They were met with death.
4. Exceeding the necessary amount of food.
Biblical example: One of the sins of Sodom was 'fullness of bread.'
5. Taking food with too much eagerness, even when eating the proper amount, even if the food is not luxurious.
Biblical example: Esau selling his birthright for ordinary food of bread and pottage of lentils. His punishment was that the 'profane person...who, for a morsel of meat sold his birthright,' we learn that 'he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully, with tears.'
Esau gives up his birthright for a bowl of pottage.
     In these heady days of cheap and abundant food; of soft porn M&S ads and the rise and rise of the TV chef, it is easy to love food a little too much.  Our sedentary lifestyles parking us easily, the active past- ancient history.  The constantly expanding availability and variety of ethnic cuisines and foreign foodstuffs forever tempting our short attention spans and dulled, yet expectant taste buds.  A gourmet is merely a glutton with brains. 
     I suppose a good war might sort us out.  Forced rationing might be the only way to check the runaway train of The West's obesity problems.  Check out old London blitz photos- no lard asses in sight.  Giles Coren recommended a fat tax.  I am not talking about taxing junk food.  If someone was going to cut into my wages for being a couple stone over, I'd soon hit the treadmill a little more often.  A shame we hide behind a facade of civil liberties and phony diagnoses.  'I have a thyroid problem'.  Yeah, right...and let me guess, dyslexia as well?  I make no excuses for my paunch and eye roll those that feel they must.
     Of course, food prices are rising.  As the earth's parasitic human population stretches to the tipping point; we will more than likely develop new and interesting ways to feed the masses, but there may be an interval of violent upheaval and tightening belts as the rice disappears and the wheat fields turn into sand.
     I reckon you can eat just about whatever you like, simply mix it up with a little exercise.  Stay away from processed foods and go for a run once in awhile.  The buzz of the burn can be nearly as enticing as a Parisien Opera given half a chance.  So, go on- savour that foie gras terrine, that 20oz porterhouse, the chocolate fondant for afters...just run a couple miles the next day and eat a salad for lunch.  Pope Gregory obviously put a lot of thought into the Bible's take on gluttony.  Let's pare things down a bit.  Nevermind that gluttony is meant to be a 'mortal sin'.  It just ain't good for ya!  Physician, heal thyself...
'Everything in moderation including moderation.'
Oscar Wilde

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