Taboo Foods: No Garlic, No Onions, No Nothin'
Posted by Jonathan Soma on oct 25, 2012 under Blog Post
Next Tuesday we're hosting a Masters of Social Gastronomy on taboo foods. We'll be talking about everything from cannibalism to, well, things like what you're about to read. It's free, and full of beer, so you might as well RSVP now.
Y'know how you meet vegetarians who eat fish, and you throw a little tantrum about how Fish Are People Too and That's Not Vegetarianism and everyone just shrugs? And then some people won't eat honey because we're taking the fruits of bee labor? There're a billion vegetarian rules out there that vary from culture to culture.
One of my favorites doesn't allow the use of onions or garlic. Jain vegetarianism rocks this rule along with a few other groups, namely some flavors of Buddhism.
The doctrine of non-violence prevents Jains from killing animals (natch), but also from killing plants. When you pick an apple from a tree, it's a-ok, but pulling up a garlic bulb kills the whole plant, which is a big no-no.
Beyond just killing one thing, though, Wikipedia (ahem) says Jains believe root vegetables like onions and potatoes actually contain countless lives. Infinite murders doesn't sound very non-violent to me.
(Other spots around the Web say you're bound to be killing or starving insects, so you can take your pick of the reasoning.)
But how about the Buddhists? They rank garlic, onions, shallots and other members of the Allium genus as the Five Acid and Strong-Smelling Vegetables, which are just too damn strong.
All of that smelly power gets you fired up in the style of sexy passion, which doesn't do so much for your ability to meditate. There's a fun creation myth to go along with these evils veggies, too!
Once upon a time, a rather unpleasant woman attempted to trick a Buddhist monk into eating meat. She prepared a beautiful dish that she claimed was vegetarian, but had meat hidden inside.
The monk was clever enough to know what was going on, though, so he tossed the dish aside. Next morning when he awoke, the food had sprouted into two bushes: garlic and onion! And that's why Buddhists don't eat garlic and onions.
Terrifying! Longer takes involve tobacco, leeks, devils, and possibly succubus poop. Want to hear the full version? Check out Masters of Social Gastronomy take on Taboo Foods on on the 30th!
Tagged with food history Masters of Social Gastronomy vegetarianism jainism buddhism