Why Fat Tuesday Survives in Our Secular, Commercial Society

The Boozy, Anachronistic Feast Is an Enduring Tie to the Cycles of Plenty and Want

To imbibe the heart and soul of the holiday called Shrove Tuesday—or Carnival, or Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday—you could head to Rio or Bourbon Street. Or you could dig into some of the lesser-known traditions of the holiday, those that have survived in northern Europe for half a millennium or more.

However you celebrate, in 2016, Shrove Tuesday can seem anachronistic. It marks a last day of indulgence before the austerity of the Lenten season—six weeks of repentance and atonement to prepare for Easter in Christian traditions. In a world …

More In: Gluttony

What My Italian Neighbors Taught Me About Gluttony

If a Long, Extravagant Meal in the Tuscan Countryside Is Wrong, I Don't Want to Be Right

As a so-called “international gypsy,” a child raised by journalist parents around the globe (mostly the Mediterranean), I suppose it’s natural for me to be drawn to food. I have …

There’s No Word for ‘Gluttony’ in Chinese

People in China Indulge in Food and Drink as a Symbol of Pride and Relationship Building

I had just consumed a pitcher of beer along with too many Chinese-German sausages at the Tsingtao Beer Museum, when I received the email from an editor asking if I …

Why Aren’t People Eating in Medieval Depictions of Feasts?

It's an Expression of the Era’s Ambivalence Towards Food

When most people think of a medieval feast, they envision a room filled with boisterous guests and the lusty consumption of hunks of meat and goblets filled with wine. Feasts …

I’ll Have What She’s Having

Jewish Delis Are Noisy, Crude Eating Places That Turned the Idea of the Restaurant on Its Head

My maternal grandparents, Jean and Lou Kaplan, did not keep kosher. That was their ancestors’ way, the path of slavish adherence to the stringencies of Jewish law. But old habits …

Henry VIII Wasn’t a Glutton—He Was Just an Injured King

Then Why Is the English Monarch Portrayed as a Fatso Who Tossed Chicken Bones?

Henry VIII is the most famous king in English history. Like all fame, Henry’s is a mix of fact and myth. He is most famous for having six wives, which …