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Cultural Food Issues in Burma

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April 12, 2015 / Burmese / By
Rachael

Burma is opening up to visitors with more choosing to visit this intriguing country each year. There are superstitions and beliefs associated with food which are very interesting to learn about and to also respect whilst travelling. Here are some of the cultural issues associated with food in Myanmar.

Superstition

In Burma people have a number of beliefs around food. These include combinations of flavours so sour foods are not consumed with milk for example. Visitors will also find that watermelon is not eaten with eggs and sugar is not combined with mangosteen. Cooling and heating types of food are also prevalent in Burmese culture. Heating foods include chicken, mango, chocolate, and ice. Cooling type foods include pork, radish, cucumber, melon and dairy products.

Pregancy is also associated with food superstitions and beliefs. If a woman wants to avoid having an overweight baby she should avoid eating bananas. It is believed that mushrooms and bamboo can lead to a new mother beoming unconscious whilst glutinous rice can make the placenta sick to the womb. Eating chilli whilst pregnant can result in a baby being born with no or very little hair. new mothers are also encouraged to take lots of clear soups. This is reputed to help with milk production. If a mother wants to avoid wind then eating turmeric usually does the trick.

For the general population in Burma there are foods associated with health. Eating chilli when you have a cough is said to make it worse and particularly the fumes from frying chillies. Cold food, oranges, and fried foods are also said to be bad for coughs and colds in Burma. One of the recommended remedies for a bad cough is chewing betel leaves whilst another is eating honey.

Feasting

In Burma feasting usually involves monks being offered food for religious reasons as awell as the general guests. The more a person can feed the greater the status symbol and many poor families get into debt when hosting these celebrations. Generally monks bless the food by reciting prayers. For doing this they are offered a meal in return by the host and in Burmese culture the monks are fed first. After this the guests can eat.

Monks are not allowed to eat after noon and so many of these festivals are held early in the morning so that the monk has time to finish his meal. It is not unusual to see dawn ceremonies in order to accommodate the monks and their eating requirements. Examples include wedding feasts and anniversaries. For anyone invited to a celebration like this it is really helpful to know the local customs and the significance of having a blessing from the monks.

Burma is full of interesting traditions and some of the food related issues are fascinating to appreciate when in the country.

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Country: Burma

Province/State: Yangon Region

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Price Guide:N/A (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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