Exploring the world involves taking in many different cultures and traditions. And it’s safe to say that the human tapestry is a rich one that encompasses everything from the fancy to the downright weird. We’re interested in the latter for this article.
Amica International decided to take a look at some of the most peculiar and outright bizarre food rituals from around the world. From national observations to remote, local traditions, there’s a weird and wonderful world of food rituals out there.
Japan – KFC Christmas
Just over 2% of the Japanese population are Christian, so it’s not an observed holiday over there. That didn’t stop KFC Japan from cashing in on the Christmas holidays. Since 1974, KFC Japan have offered a special meal of fried chicken, cake and wine as the ‘KFC Special Christmas Dinner’. It’s not quite pigs in blankets, but it has taken Japan by storm.
It’s a huge hit every year, with people ordering them weeks in advance or queuing up for hours to get their hands on this special Christmas bucket. Allegedly, it all started when a Japanese nursery school asked their local KFC branch to provide some fried chicken for their Christmas party. They requested that the branch manager dress up as Santa and come give out the chicken. Other schools caught wind and requested the same and it snowballed into their annual Christmas campaign.
Kenya – Drinking Cow Blood
The Maasai tribe of Kenya are known for their warrior spirit and their almost freakish ability to jump really high on the spot as part of their traditional dance. This food ritual is rooted deep in their history and it involves drinking the blood of a cow.
The African terrain can be very unforgiving and Maasai people would sometimes drink the blood of a cow when they were low on water. This kept going and ahs become somewhat of a delicacy for them and is wheeled at big ceremonies too. They sometimes drink straight from the wound or they mix it with their milk. Bottoms up!
Indonesia – Last Meal of The Dead
If you’ve ever been freaked out by the Catholic tradition of hosting wakes when someone dies, then you’re really not going to be on board with this morbid food ritual from Indonesia. The indigenous Toraja people engage in a practice with their dead where they keep their corpse around for weeks, months, sometimes years.
They will bring them four meals a day and this tradition is estimated to have been going since the 9th Century. Might want to eat beforehand if you ever visit!
Siberia – Magic Mushroom Wee Parties
This food ritual from the Koryak tribe in Siberia is quite extreme. Sure, if you lived in the harsh climate of Siberia, you’d probably want to let your hair down too. But maybe not like this. The Koryak discovered the hallucinogenic properties of some of the mushrooms growing in their area in ancient timers…and they’ve been partying ever since.
Why let good shrooms go to waste? These tribesmen drink their own urine to keep the trip going. Everyone loves a good party. A hallucinogenic pee party? Might think twice about that one.
England – Cheese Rolling
When does cheese taste the best? When you’ve beaten dozens of other people down a hill to catch it. The village of Brockworth in Gloucestershire have been chasing cheese down their hills for centuries. It is believed that it was born out of Pagan tradition and has now become a global occasion, with people from all over the world making the pilgrimage to earn their wheel of cheese.
You need to accept the fact that you’re probably not going to win the cheese, as local soldier Chris Anderson has won the race 22 times in 14 years, breaking the all-time record earlier this year. Previous record holder Stephen Gyde had to give up the pursuit of cheese rolling in 2009 to focus on becoming a father. You’re also very liable to break a bone, or six. Worth it.
Spain – Wine Fighting
Do you like red wine? Do you like fighting? Can’t get enough of festivals? You need to get yourself to the town of Haro in the La Rioja region of Spain, my friend. They have combined your three passions in the locally known ‘Batalla de Vino’. The story goes way back to the 13th Century and these days, people from all over the world travel to Haro to take part in the festivities.
All fighters must wear white and a red scarf. Other than that, you can use whatever tools you want to battle: balloons, water guns, buckets, you name it. A good tactic is to just take a funnel, put it in your mouth and surrender to the wine.
Thailand – Veggie Festival
When you hear the words ‘vegetarian festival’, what comes to mind? A quaint gathering of hipsters lapping up quinoa and craft beer in checkered shirts? A mob of activists protesting the meat industry? Whatever you imagined, it’s probably nothing like the Taoist festival known as the ‘Nine Emperor Gods Festival.
It takes place over 9 days and vegetarian food is essential to the festival, just as it is to the Taoist religion. There’s gorgeous vegetarian food, street parades, elaborate costumes and some religious self-mutilation. That’s right. You read that correctly. Revellers of this festival partake in some ritual self-flagellation and mutilation. This involves piercing themselves with giant skewers, walking over hot coals, slashing oneself and much more.
Do any of these food rituals jump out at you? Which ones could you partake in? The wine festival and KFC Christmas are the most accessible for sure. The vegetarian torture-fest and drinking cow blood from a live cow…not so much. Either way, these rituals show us that there’s a big world of a weird and wonderful out there and simply experiencing it with your own eyes is the best way of learning about other cultures and traditions.