Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Throw the Salt...and blind the devil

"At the Cafe La Mie" by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1891
Having just baked a Muscadine pie in celebration of the Full/Harvest/Super/Lunar Eclipsing Moon, I got to thinking about the legend and lore of the foods we eat. Something so much a part of our everyday lives is bound to get tied up in our tangle of hopes, fears, joys, and sorrows. Perhaps that is one of the things that marks us as 'human." I mean, after all, what other creature stops to ponder which way to eat the food before them. They just eat! On second thought, I know plenty of people who never spend a moment on culinary contemplation-- they just dive in. But, if you want to be on the safe side, read this compilation of a few food related superstitions. There just might be a "kernel" of truth hidden there!

Salt: Spilling salt is bad luck. (Perhaps this began in the days of yore when salt was a very
"Salt Shaker" photo by Garitzco via Wikimedia Commons
expensive and treasured commodity, not only for flavor enhancement but for longterm food preservation.) Once you've spilled the salt, to prevent the devil from stealing your soul--bad luck in anyone's book--you must take some salt in your right hand and throw it over your left shoulder. This effectively blinds the devil and thwarts his soul-stealing plans.

Bread: The devil shows up here as well. This time he sits on top of your unbaked bread as you put it in the oven preventing it from rising properly. The solution? Cut a cross into the top before baking and that pesky kitchen-dwelling demon has nowhere to sit. Hot Cross Buns, anyone?

"Carton of Eggs" photo by By Gisela Francisco via Wikimedia Commons
Eggs: An obvious symbol of fertility. Broken eggs are a normal part of farm life but don't just toss them on the compost pile, scatter them in your fields to encourage an abundant crop. If you crack open an egg and find you are blessed with a double-yoker, it means either someone you know is going to get married...or have twins...or both. And once you've cracked that illustrious shell (any egg, not just the double-yoker) be sure and completely crush the shell so a witch cannot gather up the pieces, make them into a boat and sail out onto the sea with the intent of stirring up terrible storms.

Rice: Another symbol of fertility and the reason for tossing it at the happy newlyweds as they leave the wedding celebration. Better than throwing eggs at them.

Noodles: In China, long noodles represent a long life so cutting them cuts your life short. Remember when you were a kid and got those hard looks from your mother when you delighted in sucking up your spaghetti noodle in one long, uninterrupted slurp? Well, little did you know you were preventing premature death! Now, that's using your noodle.
"Pouring Tea" by William Worcester Churchill (1858-1926)

Tea: It's bad luck to have more than one person pour tea from the pot. Perhaps that's the origin of the quaint British custom of asking "Shall I be Mother?" when offering to serve the tea.

Coffee: If you find bubbles in your brew, catch them on a spoon and eat them so you will come into money. (How do you eat a bubble?)

"Black-eye Peas and Collard Greens" photo by Leslie Seaton
 via Wikimedia commons
Black-eyed Peas and Collard Greens: This one, I grew up with here in the South. Eating black-eyed peas and collards on New Year's Day brings you wealth all through the year. Peas represent coins and collards represent the folding stuff. Of course with inflation, you have to eat a heck of a lot of peas and collards these days.

Apples: Cut open an apple and count the seeds. That's how many children you'll have!

Onions: To keep evil spirits out of your house, stick pins into a small onion and set it on your windowsill.

Pie: Bake a pie made with Muscadine grapes on the day of the full Harvest Moon in
"Kate's Good Luck Muscadine Pie" photo by KL Wood
September and you will have good luck for the rest of the season. Eat all of it the day you bake it and you will have good luck for the rest of the year. OK...I confess...I made that one up. But, hey, superstitions have to get started somewhere and it's a good excuse to eat pie. Some might even say having pie is the result of good luck. Hmmm...which came first, the chicken or the egg? Better just bake your pie and eat it too.

Have a good couple weeks, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back now! 


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