Tag Archives: sicilian

Bad mood leads to bad cooking

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.

Salami and Women


Informant: R.P. Italian-Australian Male, 28 years old

Location: Sydney, Australia


Told to me by a 2nd generation Italian male, whose family immigrated to Australia from Italy and Naples a generation earlier. This folklore may be local to the Southern region of Italy. Informant volunteered this information after being prompted.

Main Piece

RP: “I don’t know many superstitions, but I always remember being told that women should not walk into a room if Salami is being served.”


When asked about the meaning being this folklore piece, the informant could not offer a a solid explanation for why this superstition existed. He posited that it could be related to the time of day or where the salami was being served. For much of the early 20th century,  southern Italian women were not allowed to be present in places where men would congregate, for example bars or clubs. This would be considered taboo and the women would be viewed as “working women” should they enter one of these establishments. The belief in the superstition of salami and women may be an extension of this idea and cultural practice.

Interesting to note, this practice of baring women in certain public spaces began to change in Southern Italy with the invention of the television and the viewing of television programs in large public areas due to the fact that most Southern Italian families could not afford a personal television. Instead, the town would purchase a TV for the entire community and would broadcast the programs in bars or town squares where women and children were allowed to frequent for the duration of the show.