Superstitions about Food

The other day I tweeted that I had a lot of bubbles in my coffee, which my mother always said meant that money was on the way.  I wasn’t too optimistic about this – airpot coffee tends to get bubbly on its way out – but I did receive a job offer not long after, so there’s that.

My family has a host of superstitions, or maybe it would be more accurate to say means of divinition: itchy noses, itchy palms, long second toes can all predict the future.  But I couldn’t think of too many more of our family sayings that concerned food, even though food superstitions are not uncommon.  We all know, for example, that if two people pull apart the Y-shaped bone from a turkey breast, the one with the larger part will have a wish come true.  We’ve also heard that throwing spilled salt over your shoulder should distract evil, although not many of us do this.

I’m curious whether anyone else grew up hearing predictions based on food, or perhaps with rituals that seemed to have only a mystical or superstitious connection to a food event.  My family also used to say that when food drops off of your fondue fork, you are supposed to kiss the host – but none of us ever did this, either.

3 responses to “Superstitions about Food

  1. A Greek friend once told me that if you’re toasting a lover with an alcoholic beverage, you’re supposed to look one another in the eye, otherwise you’ll jeopardize your sex life. Also, not exactly a superstition, but the first thing that popped into my head on reading this post was something my mother used to tell my sister and me: “A lady always leaves some food on her plate.” The sense I always got was that if I wanted to be a lady, all I had to do was to leave some food on my plate (a rarity), but if I neglected to do so, I risked being who knows what… And our fondue superstition was different: whoever first lost their bread in the pot was supposed to pay for the wine.

    • That’s amazing. I definitely grew up with the requirement of finishing everything on the plate, although we weren’t given a mystical threat (i.e. you won’t be something you theoretically want to become; children far away will starve, somehow). I am just blown away by the suggestion that to be ladylike, one must present concrete evidence of the delicacy of one’s appetite – not just taking small portions, but leaving portions on the plate.
      I would have gotten into so much trouble!

      • I often encounter people who will chastise me for toasting with a glass of water. it’s supposedly bad luck. the superstition really seems to override tact.

        it’s also supposedly bad luck if the sugar crust on a creme brulee doesn’t snap when you hit it with the back of a spoon–but i think that’s just bad cooking!

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