Last month, while waiting at the Bilbao airport for AB to arrive from Paris, I sat in a quiet corner reading Stefan Zweig’s Beware of Pity. The quietness was disrupted by a family with three small boys, probably between the ages of three and six. The eldest boy was amusing himself with jumping from one metal grating on the ground to the other. The youngest kid tried to follow suit, albeit not too successfully and had to take two steps for every one step that his brother took.Bilbao aeropuerto01p50bwNot that this bothered me. In fact, I was quite amused by how they were running up and down along the same path with an equal level of enthusiasm each time. Funny how little children can find joy in and entertain themselves with the most ordinary things. When I was small, I’d try to walk such that I would avoid stepping onto cracks in the pavement – no good reason for doing so, but also no good reason for not doing so!

Looking around at these three boys and other families with small children who passed by, I was struck by how similar all these Spanish children looked – everyone had a lovely olive complexion with light brown sun-kissed hair and sturdy little limbs. Must be a combined result of the sun and pork diet!

Excerpt from the Cambridge.org article: “Spaniards also enjoy high pork consumption and have a special fondness for cured hams and suckling pigs… Spanish enthusiasm for pig meat stems in part from pork’s past importance as a symbol of cultural identity. Because Moors and Jews did not eat it, Christians saw the meat as more than simple nutrition. In sixteenth-century Spain, pork eating was an acid test faced by Spanish Moriscos and Marranos who publicly claimed conversion to Christianity. Conspicuous pork avoidance could result in an appearance before the tribunals of the Inquisition.”

Interesting eh? Now this explains why pork is so prevalent in the Spanish diet!Bilbao aeropuerto02p50bw

Anyway, I have no answer to the question presented at the top of this post.

But what I do wish to share is this Tumblr account by Angelica Dass which documents human skin colour based on PANTONE® colour scheme. Using an 11×11 pixel sample from the face of each individual, Dass creates a background that is dyed with the same Pantone tone. Humanæ is an ongoing project and I look forward to seeing more portraits. I’d love to see more Asian and African faces here!

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6 replies on “What has diet got to do with skin colour?

  1. Following your Zweig mini-review I’m in the middle of Beware of Pity. I’m not finding it comfortable but it is fantastic, very psychologically astute. I’ve ordered his memoirs and the forthcoming short story collection. Thanks for the tip!

    1. I found Beware of Pity to be quite intense and it was like following Hofmiller on an emotional roller-coaster, all the while with a foreboding about the end of the novel! Good to know that you’re enjoying Zweig’s works : )

      Is The World of Yesterday (Die Welt von Gestern) one of the books that you’ve ordered? A fellow blogger recommended this to me but I’ve not gotten a copy of this yet (have a growing pile of unread books at home!)

      1. Yes, that’s exactly how I’m feeling. Some nights I can’t even pick it up if I’m not robust enough to cope with Hofmiller’s emotional mess, some nights once I start i can’t put it down…

        World of Yesterday has been despatched so will go straight onto that from BoP. I hadn’t even heard of Zweig until last month, I feel almost ashamed, he is a genius!

        1. Let me know what you think after you’ve read World of Yesterday. I’ll probably add it to my growing list of books to read!

          I only learned about Zweig earlier this year… think it was during my discovery of translated novels and short stories. Anyway, better late than never! : )

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