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15 Crazy Food and Cooking Superstitions

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15 Crazy Food and Cooking Superstitions
Photo ©FLICKR/ ALPHA

Do you never pass the salt directly to your dining companion or seat yourself at a table laid for 13 or 17?

If this sounds like you, you're not alone when it comes to adhering to crazy superstitions surrounding food and cooking, which are commonplace around the globe and adhered to by many individuals in different cultures.

From Russia and China to the Czech Republic and South America, some countries have very precise table customs, which are worth knowing about on visit to avoid upsetting your host.

Find out why the dishes cooked by brides in Russia are always so salty and why you can't bring a banana on a ship, plus many more below...

15 Crazy Food Superstitions 

1. Crack a wishbone

In the USA and UK the wishbone is often pulled apart with a friend and when it snaps the person with the largest remaining piece gets to make a wish...

 

2. Slurping noodles

In China, noodles symbolise a long life, which is why they are slurped down whole, as to cut them would harm longevity. 

 

3. Rub salt into the wound

According to Russian tradition, if a woman uses too much salt in the kitchen it signifies they are in love, which is why brides, who traditionally had to salt food for the in-laws, always add more salt than they should, so as not to seem any less enamoured with their new husband.

Spilling salt is also considered very unlucky. If you spill salt, the only way to reverse your bad luck is to throw some salt with your right hand over your left shoulder.

© Flickr/ PSC1121-GO

18 DIY flavoured salt recipes

 

4. Chopsticks

Superstitions surrounding chopsticks are rife, but the mose important one to adhere to when dining in China or Japan is never placing chopsticks upright in a bowl or rice as it could signifty an early demise.

 

Learn how to use chopsticks

 

5. Controlling cutlery

In some countries, to drop a fork means that a woman will come and visit, whereas dropping a knife indicates a male visitor. If you don't want to hear a rap at the door be sure to hold firmly onto your cutlery.

Mick O/Flickr

 

6. Birthday Cake 


The celebratory birthday cake ritual is similar in many parts of the world: while guests singing "Happy Birthday" and the candles on top might appear festive, the roots of this tradition are actually in driving away evil spirits attracted by the party.

 

7. Good Luck Grapes


In South America, the tradition is to welcome in the new year by eating 12 grapes at the chime of midnight. Each grape symbolises a month of the new year ahead, with any 'sour grapes' being an indicator of a bad month to come.

©Flickr/ Chris Oakley

 

8. Bananas on board 


Historically you would never find bananas on board a British ship as they were considered a bad omen for fishing, or even bad luck for the whole crew. Legend has it that the entire crew of a ship carrying bananas was once killed off due to a bacterium carried by the fruit. However, some say that it's because bananas decompose much faster than other fruit during a sea voyage.

 

9. Odd and Even


In China attention is always given to the number of courses ordered: always ask for a number of courses equal to that of the diners. An odd dish is a bad omen, as they are generally served during a funeral feast. It's also the case in the Czech Republic: the table for Christmas dinner must be prepared for an even number of guests, as an odd number brings bad luck.

 

10. Tea and Milk

In addition to being used to predict the future, tea is also subject to many other superstitions, for example, you should never put milk in tea before the sugar, not unless you intend on never receiving a proposal of marriage. 

 

11. Upside down bread and the rest... 


Bread is linked with many superstitions. In Italy, bread placed upside down on the table is considered bad form, while in other countries it is bad luck to find a hole in a loaf when slicing through it, symbolising an impending death, while a cross baked onto the top of a loaf can be thought to chase away the devil.

On a lighter note, if you're looking for a ring on your finger never ever take the last piece of cake or the last biscuit on a plate or you'll never find a spouse.

 

12. Knives


When it comes to cooking gifts avoid giving a knife if you're superstitious as it symbolises 'severing' ties with that person. However, if you're set on gifting an amazing chef's knife, just ask for a penny in return to break the curse.

Chris Terry

Find out more about knives from Tim Hayward's definitive guide.

 

13. Rice Shower


Rice has always been a symbol of health and prosperity in many cultures, hence why at weddings newly weds are often showered with the grain.

 

Put your rice knowledge to the test in our rice quiz.

 

14. Eggs


Eggs are another popular food surrounded by various superstitious beliefs around the theme of fertility: Eggs planted in fields or eggshells thrown between crops are thought to ensure a good harvest. Whereas if you crack open an egg with two yolks you will be blessed with many children, and if you want to make a homemade cake do it as the sun rises and don't throw away the eggshells before the cake has finished baking. 

 

15. Apple seeds


Still on the theme of fertility, try cutting into an apple and counting the pips, which they say will indicate how many offspring you will have.

 

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