Our ancestors certainly had interesting ideas about food. They usually had strange stories about how certain foodstuff came to be. For instance, the Greeks believed that cabbages came from the tears of a Thracian prince tied to some vines because he annoyed the god Dionysus. These legends sometimes considered food as mystical gifts from the heavens.
Green leafy vegetables are not the only foodstuff that are, in a matter of speaking, the stuff of legends. Many still believe that salt can keep evil spirits away, thanks to TV shows like Supernatural. Our ancestors did use salt to keep witches at bay and the Zuni people of the American Southwest worshipped Ma’l Oyattsik’i, the Salt Mother.
Here are seven more interesting ancient legends about common food.
1. The Mystical Milk From A Magic Cow
Irish folklore tells of a mystical cow named Glas Ghaibhleann who offered her milk to anyone around the country. The milk was said to have 100 percent cream content and was so wonderful that many Irish towns are named after the cow. Unfortunately, the cow disappeared after greedy folks tried to steal her milk.
2. Turnings Stones Into Potatoes
The potato is a truly awesome crop that everyone around the world uses in their dishes. Interestingly, there was a time when the tuber was revered for its healing powers. In addition to that, the Muslim Hui people of China have a magical story of how it came to be. The legend goes that Muhammad prayed to Allah for help in feeding his starving army. He then ordered the men to boil some stones, which turned into potatoes.
3. Cabbage For Hangovers
Let’s continue with the story about the weeping prince Lycurgus. The cabbage was seen as a natural enemy of vines because of the prince’s situation. The ancient Greeks believed this meant cabbages can prevent intoxication and hangovers.
Interestingly, people still believe cabbage can cure hangovers these days so the Greeks may have been on to something there.
4. Bread As A Cure For a Toothache
We usually just smear it with butter these days but our ancestors actually treated bread like medicine. It was used as the medication for everything from a whooping cough, smallpox, diarrhea, and even toothaches. It is believed that bread that has been nibbled by a mouse can cure an aching tooth.
5. Radish Saved A God’s Life
Not every vegetable can boast about being the savior of a god. A Japanese legend tells the story of Daikoku-sama, who ate too many rice cakes and needed to ingest a radish to save his life.
The god begged a servant girl to give him a radish but was refused since her master had already counted his produce. Luckily, one radish had two sections so she broke off one section and saved Daikoku-sama.
Deities seem to have a thing for radishes. The Hindu god Ganesha is always depicted holding the vegetable, which is regularly offered to him by his followers.
6. The Fertility Of Cucumbers
The size and shape of cucumbers have spawned thousands of juvenile jokes so it’s no surprise that ancient Romans believed the vegetable is connected to fertility. Women who were hoping to become pregnant would tie cucumbers around their waist. It is unclear if this actually worked but our ancestors strongly believed that cucumbers could promote fertility in women.
7. Eat Your Peas To Please Thor
Some people might think that peas are a gift from the heavens but they are actually a curse from the Norse god of thunder. According to Norse legend, Thor wanted to punish his ungrateful followers by clogging their water source with peas. However, his trusty dragons missed their mark and inadvertently created a new food crop. Since then, the Norsemen ate peas on Thursday (Thor’s day) to please the god.
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