The Truth of Old Wives’ Tales



“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past; the advice and menus of cooks present; the wisdom of cookbook writers.  ~ Laurie Colwin

We think someone with generations of experience must know more than we do; therefore, unconditional belief in advice can bring exponential good fortune.  We witness family, friends, and strangers who secretly throw salt over their shoulder to ensure a cosmic balance in order to feel safer, happier, and, while wishing upon a star, healthier.  Is it that simple?  Psychologists note that our brain remembers and stores information.  But after a time, the knowledge isn’t just stored; the old wives’ tales are believed (most of the time!). 

Just a few notable old wives’ tales: 

  • Eating Chocolate Causes Acne:  Wise parents suggested to their children that a high-sugar diet was connected to the arrival of pimples; yet, it takes a high quantity of foods on the glycemic index combined with increased levels of hormones and insulin to make this belief accurate. (Maybe the stash of chocolate was coveted by the parents who sought a reason for the kids to stay away!)  
  • White Wine Can Remove a Red Wine Stain:  Unfortunately, sugars within the wines will eventually create a significant problem.  A clear liquid is correct, however.  The best strategy is to blot the stain with a damp cloth before sprinkling it with baking soda.  Using white distilled vinegar also helps. 
  • Carrots improve Eyesight:  Many a youngster ate carrots just in hopes he or she would develop x-ray vision like Superman! While the orange vegetable contains vitamins E and C and vital minerals, such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zinc, it takes more than one serving to fulfill the desire for impeccable eye health.  
  • Spilling Salt Brings Bad Luck:   Be very careful with salt.  Each fallen grain links to a tear you’ll shed in the future!  So, quickly, toss it over your left shoulder to ward off the devil!  He’s lurking there.  With an unexpected toss, he’ll promptly flee.  
  • Carry an Acorn for Eternal Life:  Almonds, cashews, and macadamia nuts are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals and beneficial for overall health, while an acorn is the seed of a tree known for long life.  Perhaps it’s a talisman of hope! 
  • Eating an Apple Daily Keeps the Doctor Away:  consumption of fruits and vegetables promotes daily health.  Eating an apple certainly can’t hurt you.  It helps digestion!  
  • Spicy Food Causes Ulcers:  Pointing the finger at a spicy meal is quite unfair! Eating chili peppers can boost metabolism levels, support immunity, thin the blood, prevent strokes, and reduce inflammation.  So, what can a person blame for ulcers?  Interestingly enough, frequent intake of over-the-counter medications, which include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium.   
  • Swallowed Gum Takes Seven Years to Digest:  According to doctors, the body’s digestive acids cannot break down the gum base, although they will extract the sugars and preservatives. The gum can pass immediately.  Swallowing an occasional piece of gum will not cause harm.
  • A Peeled Potato Absorbs Salt:  Bad meals happen.  Crafty solutions create interesting results.  For example, an over-salted soup will absorb some water, if one adds a peeled potato.  It may take five potatoes and an additional 30-minutes, and the promise isn’t necessarily a palatable soup. 
  • Testing Eggs:  In a bowl of water, allow an egg to settle at the bottom for a few seconds; then, observe what happens.  Eggs that remain horizontal are fresh; however, if one end rises slightly, eat soon!  Never consume an egg standing vertical or floating. 

Sixty-four percent of people have tried a home remedy or an old-time belief for an ailment.  It’s a means of support in times of discomfort to promote health and wellness.  According to a poll, 49% of people believe in eating an apple a day, while 58% affirm carrots improve eyesight.  Are they wrong?  No. But many old wives’ tales have a “bite” of truth! 


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