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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Food it Wouldn't be Samhain Without

It's the quintessential Irish Samhain food: colcannon.

The name means “white-head cabbage”: col (as in “cole slaw”) + ceann (as in Kennedy, “black head”) + finn (“white”), but cabbage is only one of the autumnal triumverate that make up this classic of the peasant kitchen, onions and (of course) potatoes being the others. Before the coming of the spud, likely turnips—that other classic Samhain root vegetable—would have been the third.

How many foods do you know that have (and deserve) their own song? You can hear Mary Black singing its praises here. We sing this song every Samhain. Then we dig in.

Colcannon is good, hearty winter food, but the Samhain batch is special because then you put in the divinatory tokens before you serve it: the coin (for money), the ring (for love), the thimble (some say, spinsterhood; others, creativity).

One Samhain my covensib Kay got the coin. “I could certainly use the money,” she said, “but it doesn't seem very likely; I'm already at the top of my pay grade.”

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I love the way that holiday foods carry memory. An anthropologist friend of mine once quipped, "Tell me what your family eats at C
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I don't think I've ever tried Colcannon before, but it sounds interesting. For myself I take the last Saturday in October to make
  • Carrie-Anne
    Carrie-Anne says #
    A bit confused, Samhain was replaced by All Hallows around 800ad, and potatoes weren't introduced to Ireland until the mid 16th c
  • Mabnahash
    Mabnahash says #
    I didn't realize my poor Irish ancestors of a few generations ago didn't count as peasants. Why are more modern foods not legitima
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I can think of numerous examples of divination (or selection) by means of tokens served in food. Plum puddings usually have a sixp

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Axomama (deity #19 from the atheists’ god graveyard) is one of the daughters of Pachamama, the ancient Peruvian Earth mother.  Her name literally means Potato mother.  Potatoes were a staple food and main energy source for ancient Peruvians and still are for modern Andeans. 


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  • J'Karrah
    J'Karrah says #
    Very interesting! I never knew there were that many kinds of potatoes. Thanks for sharing

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

There we were in Nuremberg. It had been a long day. We'd just come from the Albrecht Dürer house (it was closed) and the Christmas Market square (it was April). It was getting late, and we were getting hungry. We started looking for likely restaurants.

We walked past one called Die Hexenküchen, literally “the Witches' Kitchen.” “How about this one?” I say.

In German, the word Hexenküchen implies total chaos: not something one looks for in an eatery. We go in to take a look. A charming place, actually, obviously old: exposed timber beams, very Altbayernisch. No apparent sign of disorder. Turns out it's a potato pancake restaurant; everything on the menu is served with potato pancakes. What's not to like? We sit down and order a beer.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Hopefully, no one we know will ever need to use this knowledge, but it sure does seem like something worth passing along. Just in
  • Lana
    Lana says # Breathe in hard, yeah. Sigh.

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