Food taboos around the world


Published March 05, 2014

| The Daily Meal

Food taboos around the world

Food taboos around the world

From cultural to etiquette, there are some definite don't's when it comes to food.

Papua New Guinea Taboos

For women tribal members in Papua New Guinea in the middle of their menstrual cycles, there are a number of food taboos they must adhere too. Since they are thought to be in a “sickly” state, women are not allowed fresh meat, juicy bananas or any red colored fruits. 

Furthermore, anyone who eats the food a menstruating woman cooks or even steps over, that person, — particularly the husband — will become "ill with cough and possibly die.” And while older women are also not supposed to eat fish eggs when pregnant, unmarried young men will receive the best food and do not have many food taboos.

Brazilian Taboos

Seafood is a staple of the Brazilian diet. But not all fish are enjoyed by all Brazilians. Predatory fish, like piranhas and bottom feeders are considered taboo for the ill to eat. Those who are ill though, are recommended to eat fish that are omnivorous.

Chinese Taboos

If you happen to be traveling to China, minding your chopsticks is the same as minding your manners. After finishing a meal at a restaurant, do not leave your chopsticks sticking up in the left-over rice at the bottom of your bowl. That practice is employed when families offer a meal to their ancestors' ghosts at family shrines but Chinese people believe that doing so in a restaurant would plague the proprietor with a terrible curse.

Japanese Taboos

Sharing is not necessarily caring in Japanese culture. If you do plan on sharing your meal, you must place the tasting morsel on a small plate and then pass it to the recipient. Why? Because passing food from chopstick to chopstick irreverently references the Japanese custom of sifting through a family member’s cremated ashes to handle their loved ones’ bones.

Russian Taboos

Old world traditions are very much alive in Russia when it comes to traditional dating. If you are hoping to court a lady at a restaurant, do not expect to go dutch. As the initiator of the date, you are expected to pay for everything, as most Russian women won’t even bring their wallets on a formal date.

For more global food taboos, check out the full list.

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