Food Superstitions

knife spoonMy mother had a lot of them.  If a knife drops, it means trouble’s coming.  If a spoon drops, it means company’s coming...  Lila’s mother, by contrast, believed if a knife dropped it meant a man was coming.  If a spoon dropped, it meant a woman was coming...  Double egg yolks were good luck.  And never pass a salt shaker to anyone without setting it down on the table in front of them and having them pick it up from the table – don’t ask me why.

If you bring home a piece of wedding cake and put it under your pillow, you will dream about the person that you’re going to marry. My mother used to bring me pieces of wedding cakes home all the time.  I also suspect it attracts ants. - Amy Ephron

So we asked some of our contributors if they (or anyone in their family) had any food superstitions, too.  

If you drop a knife into the chest of another person it means that the police will soon be coming. Also a girl shouldn't be the one to eat the last of any one thing that's served on a platter - like the last Brussels sprout or last ear of corn or last bagel - because she'll end up an old maid. - Alan Zweibel

KitchenAid-14-piece-Knife-Set-P13284349The only one I ever heard was that if someone gave you knives as a gift you had to pay them a dollar. Apparently that was supposed to protect you from cutting yourself. I never did find out why, but "the charm" worked for at least five years. My husband's co-workers were horrified he gave me the knives, but I am pretty sure it wasn't my safety they were concerned about…
- Lisa Dinsmore

flottanteMother held that L'Ile Flottante et Créme Anglaise made everything all right. I am here to tell you, it does not. I myself have only a modest superstition, that putting a lot of pepper on my scrambled eggs brings me spiritually close to my adored Aunt Louise, because she did so. - Holland Taylor

Not exactly sure how it came to be, but my grandmother (whom I adored) ALWAYS took shoes off a table, be it kitchen, dining room or coffee because she considered it bad luck (not to mention bad hygiene). Killing a spider was also bad luck. Whenever I see one, if it's very small, I capture it and take it outside. It's sort of ingrained in me since the first time she told me that and I didn't kill one, I got a new bicycle! The spider wasn't the only one who got lucky that day. - Michelle Vazzano

Every year on February 3rd my mother would take me to church to get my throat blessed. It was the feast day of St. Blaise - Patron of Throat Illnesses - and this was supposed to protect you from choking on food for the next year. Apparently this came from the legend that he saved a boy with a fishbone stuck in his throat from dying. It seems silly, and not that great of a miracle for a saint, but hey, I'm still here… - Clara Martinez

To ensure good luck in the New Year, each member of our family had to take a turn stirring the Christmas Pudding. Probably started by my mom to get us to help in the kitchen during the holidays, but now it's a tradition.- Melanie Webber


My grandmother had a slew of them...

If you accidentally drop a teaspoon, your sister will be raped by a Cossack.

—Never slaughter a chicken after sundown, it'll wake the neighbors.

—Should you spill sugar at the table, toss a hot glass tea over your left shoulder. This will ward off Satan and let you finish the paper.

—On your wedding night, a herring under the pillow is unpleasant.

—Put your elbows on the table one more time and your blood will turn to borscht.

—Offering a wild boar sandwich to the rabbi's wife—even if it's all you have left after the weekend—and your next minyan will be filled with drunken peasants.

—Always pass the jellied calves feet round the table clockwise or a wild ox will trespass in your outhouse.

—If you drop a steaming boiled potato in your mother-in-law's lap claiming it's just a 'joke' your marriage bed will turn colder than the frosts of Siberia.

—Never use a kopeck to steady the short leg of a wobbly kitchen table. Do you think kopecks grow on trees?

- Michael Barrie