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The Metamorphoses of FatA History of Obesity$
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Georges Vigarello

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231159760

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231159760.001.0001

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Liquids, Fat, and Wind

Liquids, Fat, and Wind

(p.10) 2. Liquids, Fat, and Wind
The Metamorphoses of Fat

Georges Vigarello

, C. Jon Delogu
Columbia University Press

This chapter considers the ambiguity surrounding the definition of “fat” in medieval texts. These texts variously refer to fat as an oily, pliable, and fundamentally aqueous material, sometimes more compact depending on the location, and of a composite, somewhat obscure nature. Unknown were its proportions of water, oil, blood, or phlegm; its consistency and density; and its origin and content. All that is certain is the immediate evidence: colors, odors, resistance, and extension that lump together many possible substances as sources of fatness. Even air must be considered since it is thought to move through the body provoking swelling and puffiness, a by-product of body heat as much as smoke from fire.

Keywords:   fat composition, medieval texts, water, oil, blood, phlegm, fatness, air, Middle Ages, medieval period

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