Background: M is an American of Sicilian descent who grew up in Buffalo, New York.
M: “My grandma had a superstition that if you’re cooking while in a bad mood, then the food you’re cooking will taste bad. She’d always say ‘sour mood makes sour food’.”
Interviewer: “Was it just your grandma who believed this superstition?”
M: “My mom…my grandma’s daughter of course… also seemed to believe in this as well. She’d make excuses that she couldn’t cook because she wasn’t in the best of moods.”
Interviewer: “Do you have any other personal experience with this superstition?”
M: “During my teen years, my mom and grandma would yell at me constantly to get out of the kitchen since my teenage mood swings supposedly indicated that I wasn’t up to any good in the kitchen.”
Interviewer: “What did you make of this superstition?”
M: “I always thought it was kind of silly, sometimes maybe even an excuse not to cook. But I guess it could demonstrate how important food and cooking are in Sicilian culture… it’s more than just what’s served on the plate”
As M alludes to, this folk belief can demonstrate how some cultures perceive cooking and serving food as an experience that transcends just the biological need for sustenance. Often times, it can demonstrate a deeper connection to one’s ethnic and cultural background. But not only does preparing ethnic food requires careful consideration and masterful precision to do justice to the cultural practice at hand, it requires soul. Thus, being in a bad mood can distract or subvert one’s full attention from the task and dampen the cooking experience.