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Superstitions and food

By Zubin Dsouza

Chefs are a weird lot. If you want to see them at their weirdest best then you really have to check them out in the midst of their parenting duties.

Whilst most toddlers are learning about some cute little ducky and a cow called moo-moo, I was teaching my son about vampires and zombies.

Things grew to such a head that when he grew older and I was teaching him the various strict diets that folks the world over follow, he wanted to know whether a certain religious community were actually a coven of vampires because they refused to eat garlic!

Garlic may actually keep vampires away because I have tons of it at home and I don’t see vampires around! Some people even believe that it has the power to keep away evil eye. I just happen to think that it tastes fantastic with my pasta but then what do I know?

There are other food-related superstitions that at times appear to be a fantastic piece of fiction and I really want to sometime catch up with all the folks who came up with these howlers.

Eggs receive a lot of attention when it comes to superstitions. Seeing a double yolk means that either you or an acquaintance would have twins joining the family. They were considered symbols of fertility and so the shells were also scattered on fields to get a bountiful harvest. In some parts of the UK they believe that after eating a boiled egg one should push the spoon through the shell to ‘let out the devil’.

The last one is a gem. Apparently if you do not crush the shells after cracking them open, a witch would gather all the pieces and turn them into a boat which she would use to set sail and wreak havoc at sea. I had an encounter with a version of this witch whom I married and had the havoc wreaked at home…but moving on!

Growing rosemary keeps witches away….I tried this – doesn’t work! She is still around!

Indonesians believe that if children want to travel overseas then they should eat chicken wings. I enforce this habit with my young man mainly so that I can have the drumsticks and thighs to myself!

The Chinese believe that it is bad luck to pass food from one person’s chopsticks to another. I would agree. With this kind of stunt almost guaranteeing an instant epic failure, you also stand to mess up your clothes and that fantastically expensive silk and carpet that you have laid out as part of your decorations.

In China noodles also represent the length of life and only if you have a death wish may you cut your noodles because that is sure to reduce your lifespan.

Salt spilling besides being considered messy is also a sign of bad luck because it invites the devil. This is easily remedied by picking up the salt with your right hand and throwing it over your left shoulder to ‘blind the devil’ who is creeping up behind you. After packing the devil to the ophthalmologist, I also suggest that you dust your shoulder well lest someone think you have dandruff.

Bad bakers are not spared as well. If your bread loaf has a tunnel or hole in the middle it is supposed to represent a coffin and that means that someone is bound to die. I just think that you have a lousy baker and you should pick bread from someplace better.

They say that a woman will visit if a fork is dropped, a dropped knife invites a man and a spoon would result in an unexpected visit from a child. I dropped all three together and the doorbell rang immediately. I opened the door with my heart pounding – it was Donald Trump!

Indians think having fish and milk together results in leucoderma or the sudden appearance of white patches on your skin. Bengalis have definitely not heard this from their own countrymen and merrily go about simmering fish and yoghurt together to make their famous doi-maach.

A cut onion on your windowsill chases away evil spirits. Several cut onions near your door can definitely chase away friends. People believe if an apple is cut in half the number of seeds seen would predict the number of children one were to have. This was obviously much before people realised how expensive it was to educate children and eliminated apples and kids from their lives altogether.

Two cups of tea are never to be poured from the same pot. I think tea shops started this trend so they could charge double.

You are also not to put milk in your tea before sugar or you may never get married which is something I should have considered trying. If the sugar hasn’t dissolved completely even after stirring it then someone happens to have a crush on you.

This is exactly what happened when I had my unexpected visitor. I am not naming anyone but a big blond man who is quite outspoken and powerful landed up at my doorstep quite unexpectedly and told me that he had a ‘thing’ for me. Incidentally, I told him that it wouldn’t be possible because I was married!

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