Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My brother-in-law, Fred Moody, sent me this funny story from the NY Daily News about how scholars have discovered that through the years, in various works of art, the portion sizes at the Last Supper have been super-sized, just as they have in life. But the article only included Da Vinci's fresco from 1495-8, leaving inquiring minds frustrated and looking for other works to study. So I did a little checking around to see what I could discover in the way of culinary evidence. You'll notice that only tiny rolls can be seen above. Maybe that's a platter of something on the right - hard to see on this screen. (Anyone have a larger version?)

A hundred years later, in 1592, the meal had morphed a bit in Tintoretto's version:

Okay, so this is actually a different meal, Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus (1601), but they seem to have a quite a lot of food groups covered here:

And lastly, this was created by Marcos Zapata in 1753, about a hundred and fifty years have Da Vinci's. By this time that bread is the size of a Subway sandwich, and not too unleavened looking either.

Credit for this photo:

The dish in the center looks like an alien life form but is actually a guinea pig, a local favorite in Peru where this graces the walls of the cathedral in Cuzco. A blogger pointed out what she believes is a resemblance between Judas (lower right) and conqueror Pizarro. She may be right. Here he is, at left.

If you're interested in following this trail any farther, I'll warn you that any Last Supper search online leads to a crushing number of versions and parodies, from the Simpsons to Star Wars.


  1. A fun story and good image-hunting research on your part. For some reason the link to the Daily News article does not work. I have seen this one from the LA Times (

    Interesting mix of apostles, art historians and calorie counters. Do you think someone may be setting us up for a new fad diet?

  2. You know, I think you're on to something - The Last Supper diet - only unleavened bread, a few grapes, and perhaps red wine every other day. I fixed the link - thanks for letting me know. I'll check out the LA Times one.

  3. You are correct with the assumption that Judas's body has Pizarro's head painted onto it. I was in Peru just last month, and that is what all the tour guides say. Additionally they are drinking Chicha, Peruvian beer.