Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Food superstitions


Recommended Posts

And all the recipes I've read just say "add a cork" not "add a RED wine cork" to the pot, so the tannin theory is blown too.

This is from The Frugal Gourmet, he says his cousin puts 4 wine corks in the boiling water for the octopus>>>>

he doesn't know why but it is now a

tradition. I thought that funny and also

always put 4 wine corks in the water. The

octopus always turns out great.

and the recipes say either red or white wine corks are fine .. :laugh:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And all the recipes I've read just say "add a cork" not "add a RED wine cork" to the pot, so the tannin theory is blown too.

This is from The Frugal Gourmet, he says his cousin puts 4 wine corks in the boiling water for the octopus>>>>

he doesn't know why but it is now a

tradition. I thought that funny and also

always put 4 wine corks in the water. The

octopus always turns out great.

and the recipes say either red or white wine corks are fine .. :laugh:

EXACTLY!!

This makes no sense WHATSOEVER... :wacko:

I do love me some tender octopus though... :biggrin:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandma told me I would learn to whistle if I ate the crusts off my bread.

After diligently eating every crust for a year, I did learn to whistle. Then she told me that angels cry when little girls whistle.

Mean old biddie, she was.

Katie, the cork itself has tannin in it. Oaks are full of tannin.

sparrowgrass
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandma told me I would learn to whistle if I ate the crusts off my bread. 

After diligently eating every crust for a year, I did learn to whistle.  Then she told me that angels cry when little girls whistle.

Mean old biddie, she was.

Katie, the cork itself has tannin in it.  Oaks are full of tannin.

Except that corks are the bark of cork trees, no? Does all tree bark or trees have tannin? If so then that would make a bit more sense than anything else so far... :hmmm:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do the salt-over-the-shoulder thing too. Gotta hit that devil in the eye, I guess.

As mentioned earlier, hoppin' John and greens on New Years; that's a good one. But it demonstrates just how porous the line is between superstition and tradition.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All tree barks contain tannin. And the trees that make cork are a variety of oak. I have always wondered about the cork in the pot routine and can't make it make sense to me. There couldn't possibly be enough tannin leaching out of a couple of corks to make a difference, could there? Has anyone ever done a side by side comparison? My various SSB references are silent on the subject.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Katie:

The cork taste doesn't leach into the dish?

Apparently not. This is something I've read about/heard about in many different sources. It's said that there's some sort of chemical reaction between the cork and the water that tenderizes the normally bicycle-tire-textured octupus flesh and makes it better once cooked further either by grilling or braising.

I think there might be some connection between the fact that the cultures that claim this works are also wine producing nations. :hmmm:

HERE'S an interesting link that also suggest doing the same.

And Another.

Can this many generations of Mediterranean chefs be wrong? :unsure:

Never heard of this. The ethnic sorts that I know that catch and cook their own octopus, bash it against a rock to break up the fibres. Less traditionally, but more practically, outfits in Australia that process a lot of octopus, toss it into a clean cement mixer for a few fours.

The usual plant derived chemicals/proteins that break down protein are things like papain (from fresh papya) and other proteinases. I doubt that cork would have many of these and they would be inactivated by boiling anyway. It is possible that some more stable chemical may do something, but I doubt it. I would think that tannin would toughen the octopus flesh, not make it more tender.

My guess would be that it is easier to cook an octopus for the required amount of time if you drink at least two bottles of wine first and have a little snooze.

No all Ye Olde Traditional advise is worthwhile. My Tuscan relatives insist that porcupines shoot their quils at you, no matter how much I point out that they are utterly wrong. :wink:

Edited by Adam Balic (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm...the cork story is interesting.

Do most of your recipes for cooking octopus require some type of ACID?? I know that whenever I cook octopus I always add some wine or vinegar - and I always add a cork - Possibly with the same connection as the acid - the water leeches out the acid from the cork that the wine left in the cork - both white or red.

Who knows?!?

Ore

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Basic directions for cooking a large octopus, would be to put it in a pot with a tiny bit of liquid. As it heats and cooks intially it releases a large amount of water, when this is reabsorbed, it is pretty much done. Acid not required, but may help with release of liquid etc as it will "cook" the flesh, not to mention flavour.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not quite a superstition, but many recruits believe that the Marine Corps puts salt-peter in the food at boot camp (for it's anti-aphrodisiacal powers). I'm not sure why, but every once in a while the eggs were so dark they were nearly black, and this would be pointed to as evidence of the salt peter's-presence. Guys that worked in the chow hall supposedly remember pouring the salt-peter into the eggs, despite the fact that it never happened.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's not quite a superstition, but many recruits believe that the Marine Corps puts salt-peter in the food at boot camp (for it's anti-aphrodisiacal powers). I'm not sure why, but every once in a while the eggs were so dark they were nearly black, and this would be pointed to as evidence of the salt peter's-presence. Guys that worked in the chow hall supposedly remember pouring the salt-peter into the eggs, despite the fact that it never happened.

the Saltpeter Principle :rolleyes:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People of German ancestry I knew in central PA would eat pork chops and sauerkraut on January 1 for luck in the new year.

I believe everything I read on Egullet, but will have to run a taste test to confirm that cooking them with octopus will tenderize wine bottle corks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a recipe for pork with saurkraut that's supposed to be eaten on New Year's day - it's cooked for 24 hours and is incredible. Don't know that it does anything for luck, but it's certainly a nice way to start the new year :biggrin:

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was taught by a Greek chef that you never hand a knife directly to someone....you have to put it down near them and let them pick it up. Otherwise the ungrounded metal will cause a fight between the two.

I don't believe it, but I remember it, and I pass it on for your amusement.

I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Putting corks in bags of ice, keeps the ice cubes from sticking together. My mother swears by this and still does it in her ice cube bin.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandma told me I would learn to whistle if I ate the crusts off my bread.

After diligently eating every crust for a year, I did learn to whistle. Then she told me that angels cry when little girls whistle.

Oh, that's priceless!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did you ever notice a missing button on your shirt after you were dressed? And wanted someone to replace it, but you didn't want to take the shirt off? My grandmother was happy to sew it back on if that happened, but you had to chew on a crust of bread while she was doing it. Otherwise, she was sure she would sew up your brain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grandmother told me if you sang at the table, you'd marry a dumb husband!! For a musically inclined family, that's just evil!

I recently heard one I've never heard before, but immediately put it into practice. If you are waiting for the phone to ring, or to receive some kind of news, put a chicken (with aromatic herbs) in the oven. It supposedly makes it happen. Really it just soothes you, I think.

And finally, an old Italian one that we still practice is, Eat lentils on the first day of the year. It brings money to you in the New Year. So every year, we make Cotecchino with lentils.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some of you had mean grandmothers!

Lucky for me, and probably luckier for my mom and dad, we moved far away when I was 3 or 4.

Another superstition, not food exactly, but if you get the front of your dress wet while you are washing dishes, you will marry a drunkard.

sparrowgrass
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lettuce is believed to have magical and healing properties, including the power to arouse love and counteract the effects of wine.
:biggrin::biggrin:

and from the British Isles there are some interesting beliefs ...

In Yorkshire, housewives used to believe that bread would not rise if there was a corpse in the vicinity, and to cut off both ends of the loaf would make the Devil fly over the house!

Once at the table, there were numerous other things to watch out for.  The best known of course is not to have 13 people at the table, and should someone spill the salt, a pinch had to be thrown over the left shoulder into the eyes of the Devil.   Crossed knives at the table signify a quarrel, while a white tablecloth left on a table overnight means the household will need a shroud in the near future.

Two women must not pour from the same tea-pot, if they do, a quarrel will ensue.  In Somerset a double-yolked egg was viewed with concern as it foretold of a hurried wedding due to a pregnancy.

Finally, you should use chopsticks with care. Leaving them standing in a bowl of rice is something done at funerals and so it symbolises death, as does passing food from your chopsticks directly to someone else's.
Japan Edited by Gifted Gourmet (log)

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whenever the department goes out for lunch and somebody asks for the salt, my boss passes both the salt and pepper and says:

"Never sever the salt and the pepper."

What's with that? He doesn't know, either.

Matt Robinson

Prep for dinner service, prep for life! A Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can anyone confirm or deny that boiling wine corks with octopus makes them more tender? I think this is a pretty wide spread custom/superstition amongst Mediterranean peoples that eat a lot of octopus (i.e. Greeks, Spaniards, Portugese).

I guess in the end it's kind of like of like what Grandma used to say about chicken soup, "It couldn't Hurt!" :biggrin:

Why would you care if your wine corks are tender?

Cakes

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...