The physiology of taste, by Brillat-Savarin

Meditation XXIII.

Thinness.

Definition.

THINNESS is the state of that individual, the muscular frame of whom is not filled up by strength, and who exhibits all angles of the long scaffolding.

Varieties.

There are two kinds of thinness; the first is the result of the primitive disposition of the body, and is accompanied by health, and a full use of the organic functions of the body. The second is caused by the fact that some of the organs are more defective than others, and give the individual an unhappy and miserable appearance. I once knew young woman of moderate stature who only weighed sixty-five pounds.

Effects of Thinness.

Thinness is a matter of no great trouble to men. They have no less strength, and are far more active. The father of the young woman I spoke of, though, very thin, could seize a chair by his teeth and throw it over his head.

It is, however, a terrible misfortune to women, to whom beauty is more important than life, and the beauty of whom consists in the roundness and graceful contour of their forms. The most careful toilette, the most, sublime needle-work, cannot hide certain deficiencies. It has been said that whenever a pin is taken from a thin woman, beautiful as she may be, she loses some charm.

The thin have, therefore, no remedy, except from the interference of the faculty. The regimen must be so long, that the cure must be slow.

Women, however, who are thin, and who have a good stomach, are found to be as susceptible of fat as chickens. A little time, only, is necessary, for the stomach of chickens is comparatively smaller, and they cannot be submitted to as regular a diet as chickens are.

This is the most gentle comparison which suggested itself to me. I needed one, and ladies will excuse me for the reason for which I wrote this chapter.

Natural Predestination.

Nature varies its works, and has remedies for thinness, as it has for obesity.

Persons intended to be thin are long drawn out. They have long hands and feet, legs thin, and the os coxigis retroceding. Their sides are strongly marked, their noses prominent, large mouths, sharp chins and brown hair.

This is the general type, the individual elements may sometimes vary; this however happens rarely.

Thin people sometimetimes eat a great deal. All I ever even talked with, confess that they digest badly. That is the reason they remain thin.

They are of every class and temperament. Some have nothing salient either in feature or in form. Their eyes are inexpressive, their lips pale, and every feature denotes a want of energy, weakness, and something like suffering. One might almost say they seemed to be incomplete, and that the torch of their lives had not been well lighted.

Fattening Regimen.

All thin women wish to be fat; this is a wish we have heard expressed a thousand times. To render, then, this last homage to the powerful sex, we seek to replace by folds of silk and cotton, exposed in fashion shops, to the great scandal of the severe, who turn aside, and look away from them, as they would from chimeras, more carefully than if the reality presented themselves to their eyes.

The whole secret of embonpoint consists in a suitable diet. One need only eat and select suitable food.

With this regimen, our disposition to sleep is almost unimportant. If you do not take exercise, you will be exposed to fatness. If you do, you will yet grow fat.

If you sleep much, you will grow fat, if you sleep little, your digestion will increase, and you will eat more.

We have then only to speak of the manner they who wish to grow fat should live. This will not be difficult, according to the many directions we have laid down.

To resolve this problem, we must offer to the stomach food which occupies, but does not fatigue it, and displays to the assimilant power, things they can turn into fat.

Let us seek to trace out the daily diet of a sylph, or a sylph disposed to materialize itself.

GENERAL RULE. Much fresh bread will be eaten during the day, and particular care will be taken not to throw away the crumbs.

Before eight in the morning, soup au pain or aux pates will be taken, and afterwards a cup of good chocolate.

At eleven o’clock, breakfast on fresh broiled eggs, petit pates cotelettes, and what you please; have eggs, coffee will do no harm.

Dinner hour should be so arranged that one should have thoroughly digested before the time comes to sit down at the table. The eating of one meal before another is digested, is an abuse.

After dinner there should be some exercise; men as much as they can; women should go into the Tuilleries, or as they say in America, go shopping. We are satisfied that the little gossip and conversation they maintain is very healthful.

At times, all should take as much soup, potage, fish, etc., and also meat cooked with rice and macaronies, pastry, creams, etc.

At dessert such persons should eat Savoy biscuits, and other things made up of eggs, fecula, and sugar.

This regimen, though apparently circumscribed, is yet susceptible of great variety: it admits the whole animal kingdom, and great care is necessarily taken in the seasoning and preparation of the food presented. The object of this is to prevent disgust, which prevents any amelioration.

Beer should be preferred — if not beer, wines from Bourdeaux or from the south of France.

One should avoid all acids, except salads. As much sugar as possible should be put on fruits and all should avoid cold baths. One should seek as long as possible, to breathe the pure country air, eat many grapes when they are in season, and never go to the ball for the mere pleasure of dancing.

Ordinarily one should go to bed about eleven, P. M., and never, under any circumstances, sit up more than an hour later.

Following this regime resolutely, all the distractions of nature will soon be repaired. Health and beauty will both be advanced, and accents of gratitude will ring in the ears of the professor.

Sheep are fattened, as are oxen, lobsters and oysters. Hence, I deduce the general maxim; viz: “He that eats may be made fat, provided that the food be chosen correctly, and according to the physiology of the animal to be fattened.”

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31