Food Superstitions

Would You Like Protection Against Witches with That?

| May / June 2006

Bad luck, good luck, success in love, unexpected money: Superstitions are our irrational attempts to make the world more rational. If, after spilling salt, flinging some over your left shoulder 'into the devil's eye' wards off back luck, then luck itself must exist and can be invoked to explain other things, for better or worse. Here are some food-based superstitions from various countries.


Superstition: After eating a boiled egg, push the spoon through the bottom of the empty shell to let out the devil.

Possible basis: The devil seeks hard-boiled eggs because sulfurous smell of yolk reminds him of home (that is, hell).

Comment: Suggested experiment: Don't crush shell. Put it in disposal and grind the devil to powder. (Not applicable in New York City, where disposals were illegal until recently.)

Superstition: To cut bread unevenly is a sign you've been telling lies.