Once upon a time, in Britain, there were many bizarre folklore tales about food and kitchen magic, with superstitions being adhered to, for a great fear of reprisal may fall upon those who did not take heed of the old wives’ tales.
Many housewives believed that to stir a pot of food “widdershins” meaning in the opposite direction to the sun, meant that the food would spoil. The reason for this being that they believed witches danced in this way.
You may have heard the saying “a watched pot never boils”? But ever wondered where it came from? In Dorset, it is common knowledge that a slow boiling kettle is bewitched and may contain a toad!
It was ill-advised to ever throw egg shells onto a fire because it would cause your chickens to stop laying or even worse, create a storm out at sea and anyone that burned bread was said to have “fed the devil.”
It was said to never sharpen a knife after the sun sets because this attracts misfortune and even worse, it was believed to attract murderers or thieves to the house.
When baking bread, it was and still is common to mark a cross on the top, but maybe you didn’t know that this was said to “let the devil out”?
In Yorkshire, housewives used to swear that bread dough would not prove if they had a corpse in the house too. If someone cut both ends off the loaf, the devil would be sure to fly over your home as well, so be warned!
Salt has fantastic food preserving properties, and it is probably because of this that the next superstition arose. To spill salt would be said to anger providence, remember Judas dropping the salt during the last supper? It is an omen of bad luck, but this is commonly thought to be counteracted by the act of throwing salt over the left shoulder to throw dust into the eyes of the devil, who sits on your left shoulder. Remember which is your left and right however because to throw salt over your right shoulder would be to throw it into the eyes of your guardian angel.