Excerpt: 'The Diet Code' by Stephen Lanzalotta

If you're a fan of Dan Brown's novel "The Da Vinci Code," and you want to lose weight, then you may be interested in "The Diet Code" by Stephen Lanzalotta

Just as Brown's book discusses Da Vinci's Golden Ratio, Lanzalotta's does too -- and tells you how it can help you shed pounds. Lanzalotta, a baker who lives in Portland, Maine, applies mathematical principles to his cafe menu and shows you how to apply it to your daily eating for optimal health.

Below is an excerpt from "The Diet Code."

Chapter One: Leonardo da Vinci, the Golden Ratio -- and What's for Dinner

The wisest and noblest teacher is nature itself. — LEONARDO DA VINCI

Man achieves the height of Wisdom when all that he does is as self-evident as what Nature does. — I CHING

Milan, Winter 1492

The pencil drops from Leonardo's left hand as he picks up a chunk of bigio, or whole grain bread, to soak up broth from a steaming bowl of minestra, a Milanese broth featuring the region's distinctive savoy cabbage and a mix of root vegetables and their greens. He distractedly stabs at a bit of turnip with the fork in his right hand. Within reach are some thin slabs of creamy Taleggio cheese and a flask of wine from the vineyards of his patron, Ludovico Sforza, duke of Bari.

Momentarily focusing on his soup, Leonardo reminisces about his native Tuscany and the Florentine minestrone, spicy and meaty from a soffrito mix of minced and sautéed chicken giblets, pork and peppercorns. The duke had been suitably surprised by the dish when Leonardo prepared it for him. The Lombard ruler is quite fond of meat from the pig and well knows of Leonardo's reputation as a brilliant cook, but it was the last meal he expected from a vegetarian's kitchen.

Leonardo isn't painting much these days, because the duke is presently more interested in civic planning and engineering -- moats, walls, war machines and the like. But the duke has been suggesting a fresco for the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and Leonardo is already plotting the depiction of another meal of bread and wine. Unbeknownst to his patron, the artist has in mind to use the fresco to convey a message so grand, so unexpected and so shocking that its deepest meanings will have to be encoded if the fresco is to be painted at all.

That will come later, though. Now, Leonardo occupies his peripatetic mind with plotting the geometry of what will become one of his greatest works. Lifting the bowl to sip the last of his soup, he contemplates proportioning the enormous work by what he calls secto d'aurea -- golden section or, as it is later renamed, the golden ratio. He visualizes the way lines will relate to each other, forming key angles. If the numbers governing the structure of a painting are right, he knows, the aesthetic will resonate deep within viewers.

Leonardo lifts the bowl to his lips, sips the last of his soup and mops up the final drops with a crust torn from the loaf, enjoying a secret latent in his lunch: the key to long life and good health is literally in his hands.

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