I need a list of religiously forbidden foods.
May 16, 2006 10:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about cooking up a Sinner's Dinner. Help me make my shopping list of religiously forbidden foods.

I want to make a dinner that is composed of as many foods that are religiously forbidden as possible (that is to say, expressly and specifically frowned upon in a religious text). From a Christian standpoint, I have a vague sense that Leviticus would be a place to look, but beyond that I have no clue.

If you would be so kind, please list a specific passage from a religious text (and which text it is) that you think outlaws a specific food or drink. If you know something about theology, and can drop some knowledge about who the law was intended for and stuff like that, that's cool too.
posted by 23skidoo to Food & Drink (42 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The Bible has been pretty well covered already. (Enjoy your shrimp dinner!) Anybody got a similar page for the Koran?
posted by jellicle at 10:15 AM on May 16, 2006

A Discordian shall partake of no hot dog buns...
posted by jessenoonan at 10:15 AM on May 16, 2006

I remember reading a pamphlet at my religiously devout grandmother's home that the catholic church forbids eating anything that is still alive. So maybe... something still living?
posted by jedrek at 10:22 AM on May 16, 2006

How about serving a fake Communion? Wine/grape juice in tiny glasses and wafers.
posted by orange swan at 10:25 AM on May 16, 2006

Filet mignon wrapped with bacon and stuffed with cheese. That would cover some ground. Bonus points if you kill the cow in some slow painful way, death by stapler or something.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:30 AM on May 16, 2006

From a Christian standpoint, I have a vague sense that Leviticus would be a place to look.

As a matter of fact, the New Testament strikes down the dietary laws from the Old Testament - I think it was Paul who had a dream or a vision in which he was told that nothing God had made was unclean. So... in terms of Christian dietary taboos, all I can think of is Communion (not specifically forbidden, but pleasingly sacreligious) or perhaps cannibalism, or gluttony in itself.
posted by orange swan at 10:30 AM on May 16, 2006

Yes, Paul had a dream of bacon sandwiches and the old covenants were undone. I would suggest pork liver rumaki on skewers with lobster chunks, maybe. Yum. Remember to wear a mix of cotton and wool and silk while eating.
posted by luriete at 10:35 AM on May 16, 2006

Not sure what specific religion this relates to (something Chinese?), but here's a piece on "impurities": onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, tobacco, and all animals. The vegetables forbidden are interesting: lots of soup and sauce options there, and you can round out the meal with a cigar.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:40 AM on May 16, 2006

In the Middle Ages coffee was considered the work of the devil and outlawed by the Catholic Church. Put a little irish in the coffee and you catch a broad swath of world religions.
posted by fantastic at 10:47 AM on May 16, 2006

Actually it was not paul, it was Cornelius in Acts i believe that said "the lord has shown me that nothing unclean" and he was refering to associating with gentiles, not food.

unless we are talking about a different story. However, christians still have no food restrictions...Leviticus is the Torah...the jewish Law. Jesus constantly used metaphors for "the old law cannont contain the new gospel." If i wasnt at work i would look up a specific text.

posted by I_am_jesus at 10:47 AM on May 16, 2006

Eat with your left hand (Hindus). Wash everything down with a rum (offends various folk) and coke (Mormons? who else?).
posted by pracowity at 10:51 AM on May 16, 2006

Well, the Mormons have something called The Word of Wisdom (which is from this section of a religious LDS text called Doctrine & Covenants). It's basically a health code, but the only part that church members really seem to pay attention to are:

1. No wine
2. No "strong drinks" (liquor)
3. No "hot drinks" (coffee or tea)
4. No tobacco

Nobody seems to pay attention to the only eating meat in winter or during famine part.

So if you have some wine or coffee, or even some excess meat, you've got the Mormon sins of food covered.
posted by witchstone at 10:59 AM on May 16, 2006

I would suggest the locally popular (in New Haven, CT) "clams casino" pizza. It is a white pizza with bacon, clams and peppers. Mixing meat and milk, pork, shellfish, you name it, it has it.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 11:00 AM on May 16, 2006

Yeah, for maximum communion shock effect, try to work in the phrase "my body, broken for you" (or "my blood, poured out for you.") It's what they say as they hand you the wafer.
posted by salvia at 11:10 AM on May 16, 2006

Well, you've got the Hindu's covered above with the filet mignon. Jainism teaches non-violence against plant life (as well as animal life), which includes not eating root vegetables (carrots, potatos) or bulbs (garlic, ginger), so you have your sides covered too - some garlic mashed spuds and glazed ginger carrots
posted by darsh at 11:18 AM on May 16, 2006


I'm quite certain that it was Peter who had a dream of a whole bunch of unclean things. God says 'eat some of this man!,' and Peter's like " 'scuse me, they're not clean!", and God's like "I made them clean, fewsal!"

But the whole dream sequence, IIRC, did relate to Peter's unwillingness as a practicing Jew to associate with goyim such as Cornelius.
posted by The Confessor at 11:19 AM on May 16, 2006

Easy: If there's meat involved at all, host the dinner on a Friday.
posted by Zozo at 11:24 AM on May 16, 2006

If we were talking Judaism, I'd suggest a bacon cheeseburger with shrimp on top... holy blasphemy...
posted by twiggy at 11:32 AM on May 16, 2006

PinkStainlessTale's link above refers to a Hindu tradition - Hare Krishnas (members of ISKCON) have the same restrictions (which is why they use asafoetida instead of onions and garlic). No cite, though, sorry.

The fundamentalist, born-again Christian church in which I was raised followed the restrictions of the OT. As with everything regarding religion people pick and choose what they want to follow - there is no consistency in much of anything in Christianity.

And, a handy link from wikipedia: Taboo food and drink.
posted by goo at 11:36 AM on May 16, 2006

Some Catholics believe that you are not to partake of the eucharist (communion wine and bread) without a pure body, meaning, in practice, you must refrain from eating for an hour before mass. So you could have a video of a mass playing while you were eating. And you could raise up whatever offensive food you were eating at the point the priest blesses the bread and wine.
posted by sarahnade at 11:39 AM on May 16, 2006

Make sure to cook at least something in a microwave, just to take care of the Amish.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:42 AM on May 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

And I forgot! My vegetarianism was forbidden by the religion of my childhood, due to Genesis 9:3: "Every creature that lives shall be yours to eat; as with the green grasses, I give you all these."
posted by goo at 11:46 AM on May 16, 2006

Do you have a menstruating woman available to cook?
posted by fuzzbean at 11:52 AM on May 16, 2006

Hey now, I know this is a boyzone, but cooking and eating a woman crosses the line. I know, I know, but I couldn't resist.
posted by theora55 at 12:11 PM on May 16, 2006

Cook the dinner! I meant cook the dinner!


Though you must admit, that'd be pretty darn taboo...
posted by fuzzbean at 12:18 PM on May 16, 2006

If Judeo-Christian textuality is your thing, Leviticus 11 is the place to look, especially if you're feeling exotic. Animals proscribed by the Hebrew Bible include eagles, bats, white owls, weasels, rats, geckos, monitor lizards, as well as particular fats from otherwise permitted animals, and sciatic nerves.

You might also want to try putting caviar on a communion wafer, or finding a renegade priest who'll bless some wine for you to make coolers out of.

Islam looks down on pork and alcohol, while certain strains of Buddhism say no to garlic. Of course, if you really wanted to be sacreligious, you'd do what a friend of mine did and have a Popeluck when the pope dies. And you'd light votive candles and serve communion wafers, both of which can be bought quite easily in Montreal, where I lived.

Mmmm, sacrilicious.
posted by awenner at 12:23 PM on May 16, 2006

caviar on a communion wafer

I like this one. I think hosts have a lot of potential here.
posted by danb at 12:37 PM on May 16, 2006

While possibly offensive, untransubstantiated communion wafers would not, by definition, be banned. They are nothing more than unleavened bread baked specifically for use in mass. I've eaten quite a few unleavened wafers in my day. In the same way that regular wine wouldn't be offensive to catholics.
posted by allthewhile at 12:38 PM on May 16, 2006

erm I mean regular untransubstantiated wine wouldn't be "banned".
posted by allthewhile at 12:39 PM on May 16, 2006

While not particularly offensive, Passover at my house isn't Passover without Manischewitz Jello Shots. You could even use regular pig and horse hoof gelatin instead of the Kosher for Passover stuff we find.
posted by bryghtrose at 12:49 PM on May 16, 2006

May I suggest scheduling your dinner on a major Jewish fast day? Maybe one that coincides with Ramadan? (Be sure to start before dark!)
posted by callmejay at 1:02 PM on May 16, 2006

Do we have the Church of the Subgenious covered? What would Bob Dobbs not eat?
posted by rolypolyman at 1:13 PM on May 16, 2006

Jainism discourages the consumption of root vegetables, especially potatoes and onions.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:14 PM on May 16, 2006

I'd suggest having a psychiatrist present, possibly passing out medication for anyone feeling a little down or post-partumy. That'll cover the scientologists. Oh, and if someone happens to give birth, have them do it really loudly.

Could you get some holy water to do the washing up with?
posted by jimmythefish at 1:19 PM on May 16, 2006

Shrimp has already been covered in this post, but I'd like to take a moment to point out that G-d hates shrimp.

posted by rmless at 1:30 PM on May 16, 2006

The New Testament details how the primitive Christians did away with most of the requirements of the Torah (and the Oral Law), but there are a couple things worth noting:

Paul admonishes the Corinthians to abstain from meat offered to idols, not because of any significance it might have to mature Christians, but because this might be a source of confusion and doubt to others. I doubt this one is going to be useful to you, because your diners are going to know already that violating taboos was the point.

While the early church leaders were discussing how much, if any, of the Jewish Law should apply to Gentile Christians, James proposed what became the official policy, that they not eat blood, strangled things, or food offered to idols. Ethnically Jewish Christians were free to continue applying their customs if they wished. A friend of mine, as a nondenominational Christian, avoided pork for several years on personal grounds.

And, just to clarify the oft-murky issues of Latter-day Saint/Mormon doctrine and practice: Official interpretations have stated that 'hot drinks' means coffee and tea (scroll to the first paragraph past the header, 'The Word of Wisdom is an inspired health code', to see Brigham Young's take on it).
'With reference to cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken a position on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and we do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in acquiring the habit. Any beverage that contains ingredients harmful to the body should be avoided' (Priesthood Bulletin, February 1972, v. 8 n. 1; periodically requoted since, including at the link given (scroll halfway down)),
and within Mormon culture it is fairly common to view recreational caffeine use as inadvisable, and to avoid it accordingly. Neither the cafeteria in the Church Office Building nor the food services at BYU sell caffeinated sodas, more or less for the same reason that the Corinthians were not to eat meat offered to idols: Nothing officially wrong with it, but discretion is the better part of valor.

IIRC, the Church Handbook of Instructions (1998, give or take a year) permitted temple recommends to be given and full fellowship extended to those who drink decaf, but I expect to see this concession rescinded in my lifetime. (Actually, it could well have been rescinded already, by official letter, without my knowing.) For the sake of comparison, the Word of Wisdom was initially given as a recommendation, so that those who were addicted to tobacco would not fall instantly under condemnation, but within ten years Hyrum Smith as Assistant President of the Church began to teach that it should be viewed as a commandment. The admonition that 'strong drink is not for the body' was taken in initial decades as a call to temperance, and only later as a criterion of abstinence. The Word of Wisdom was nearly a century old before it became an ironclad requirement of church office. I suspect the decaf exception is a concession to some old folks with old habits, and will die off as they do.

Other official interpretations are few. There is no official definition of 'strong drink', though the general consensus is that it means anything you can conveniently get drunk on. (Including even Utah beer, with its 3.2% alcohol.) There is official counsel against addictive drugs and against any substance that impairs sound judgement, but it is given in connection with the Word of Wisdom and not as a direct interpretation thereof. Church President Ezra Taft Benson personally subscribed to a close reading of the part about meat, drawing a distinction between hunted game and domestically-raised meat, but he refrained from making this interpretation official. And regional church authorities have sometimes given additional counsel or policy, applicable within their jurisdictions only, as in the south Pacific where they have opposed chewing betel and drinking kava. (Lots of folks drink kava anyway.)

To summarize: If you want to be guaranteed unacceptable to any fully adherent Latter-day Saint on the basis of the Word of Wisdom, you need wine, liquor, beer, coffee, or tea (meaning Camilla sinensis). You may get some offense value from certain sodas or particular approaches to meat, but this will vary with (a) personal judgement, (b) involvement in generalized Mormon culture, and (c) involvement in Rocky Mountain Mormon culture, and is therefore highly nontrivial to predict.

Oh, and don't say grace.
posted by eritain at 3:03 PM on May 16, 2006

In Quebec it's gotten quite fashionable to feast on communion crackers, probably because they are low fat and the name is a minor swear work, estee. It's not a sin, if they have not been blessed.

I think you could buy these at some religious stores and bless them yourselves.

A couple of years ago we had a birthday party for Jesse Helms at which we served North Korean egg rolls, Integration salad (white rice, black beans, salsa), gay rainbow pasta in a garlic sauce, perrier, cuban ham and cuban rum, and yankee Indian pudding. The senator never responded to our invitation, but everyone else had a nice time.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:23 PM on May 16, 2006

Faith and Food has a lot of information regarding dietary restrictions for different religions.
posted by camcgee at 3:34 PM on May 16, 2006

It's not hard to make baby Krsna cry - just break all the rules of prasadam. Be sure to use lots of onions and garlic instead of asfoetida powder, include at least three different kinds of animal (cows are a must), serve pickled eggs for munchies, and wash it all down with beer and Coke.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:51 PM on May 16, 2006

You can take care of all the stuff forbidden by Mormons by making yourself the following simple meal:

Eat a huge amount of meat in the summertime, and wash it down with Kahlua with a pinch of chewing tobacco and a teaspoon of oatmeal (the word of wisdom says that oats are for horses). Yum!
posted by JekPorkins at 3:57 PM on May 16, 2006

In Vodoun, food that is given to the ancestors is verboten to eat (the taboo is specifically against eating food that the dead have "eaten"). Traditional foods are cold black coffee and white popcorn, all served on clean, white dishware. Hors d'ouvres!
posted by kalimac at 4:50 PM on May 16, 2006

Pythagoras instructed his followers to never eat beans.
posted by thewittyname at 8:54 PM on May 16, 2006

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