Monday, November 26, 2012

Food For Thought - Legends and Folklore

Image courtesy of Suat Eman 

Many foods have been associated with religion, healing, love, sex, mortality, status and beauty. Beliefs about food vary from culture to culture. If you look through any ancient literature, you will see illuminating accounts of various foods and their magical powers on the human mind, soul and body. Therefore, it is no surprise how many of these myths and folklore play an important role in our own food choices.
Some of these claims date back to as far as 2000 B.C. With the holidays approaching, we thought sharing some of these traditions might make for some great discussions at your next social gathering.

African Proverb - “Come into my home; sit at my table; then you will know me.” In most cultures, the sharing of a meal is an important social event, and on the continent of Africa, you will hear an individual say the following about a person: “He is my friend. We have eaten together.”

Avocado - Ancient Aztec, Mayan and Inca cultures believed avocados nourished the body externally and internally.

Mayan folklore tells how the famous Indian, Seriokai, was able to trace his unfaithful wife to the end of the world. The lovers adored avocados and ate them wherever they went. Seriokai followed the young trees, which sprang from the discarded seeds.

In Mexico, the avocado has been considered an aphrodisiac. An old Aztec legend describes how young and beautiful maidens were kept in their rooms for protection during the height of the avocado season.

Yam - Among the Ashanti of Ghana, yams play an important role in the ceremonies that accompany birth, marriage and death.

Onion - “Throwing onions after a bride on her wedding day will assure her of tearless years of marriage.”

Apple and Tomato - The apple was associated with lust, and the tomato was considered an aphrodisiac.

Basil - Millions of devout Hindus started their day by praying around the household plant. In the evening, they would leave a butter lamp burning by the herb and would concentrate on love and devotion surrounding basil.

Gourmet News, Summer 1986
Gourmet News, Spring 1986

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