March 22nd, 2013
08:17 PM ET
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Plenty of traditional foods pack an emotional whallop, but few of them back it up with a sensory punch as strong as horseradish's. The pungent root is a key part of a Passover Seder plate (along with salt water-dipped vegetables, a shank bone, a hard boiled egg, a sweet paste of apples and nuts called charoset, and a bitter vegetable - often lettuce) and symbolizes the harsh lives of the Israelites before they were delivered from slavery in Egypt.

March 15th, 2013
01:30 PM ET
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Alessandra Bulow (@abulow on Twitter) is Food & Wine's associate digital editor.

If foraging for shamrocks and downing marshmallow-filled cereal endorsed by a cartoon leprechaun hasn’t brought you the luck of the Irish by now, then it may be time to rethink your strategy on St. Patrick’s Day. From traditional dishes like noodles that symbolize longevity to a simple ham sandwich, superstitious chefs share their picks for good fortune.

Grapes, tamales, king cake and other New Year food traditions around the world
December 31st, 2012
09:30 AM ET
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Americans who celebrate on New Year's Eve with a bottle of champagne, party hats and a kiss at midnight have an important lesson to learn from the rest of the world (and certain regions of this country): The arrival of the new year is meant for feasting.

As the new year arrives around the globe, special cakes and breads abound, as do long noodles (representing long life), field peas (representing coins), herring (representing abundance) and pigs (representing good luck). The particulars vary, but the general theme is the same: to sit down and share a meal with family and friends to usher in a year of prosperity.

Here are some of the common traditions around the world and a few hints about where to partake in them:

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Filed under: 100 Places to Eat • Culture • Holidays • New Year's • Rituals • Travel

The kid who couldn't trick-or-treat
October 25th, 2012
10:00 AM ET
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Poor Vinnie. That's not actually his name, because this wasn't his fault. Sadly, his real one is, in some quarters, synonymous with "That Kid Whose Parents Didn't Let Him Trick-Or-Treat."

In my 1980s suburban youth, in my neck of the woods, a certain level of sugar-charged entitlement overtook the last day of October. While no one was especially extravagant in their candy offerings (save for one or two houses on a well-to-do cul-de-sac giving out full-sized Hershey bars, and believe me, word got out) perceived stinginess was met with great public indignation.

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Filed under: Culture • Favorites • Halloween • Holidays • Religion • Rituals

Just don't call me late for Iftari
August 18th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
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From dawn to dusk during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex in order to purify themselves, learn humility, pray and concentrate on Allah's teachings. Sarah Mahmood is a former intern on Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien and a junior at Wellesley College and shares this story of her family's traditional Indian celebration.

This might be the first Ramadan that my parents wonʼt complain about how theyʼve gained weight, despite having fasted the entire month.

After a long, hungry day of fasting, itʼs easy to overcompensate when you can finally eat. It doesnʼt help that in South Asia, the meal eaten to break the fast (Iftari or Iftar in other parts of the Muslim world), consists primarily of fried food.

Now that Ramadan is in the summer though, and the sun sets later at 8 pm, fewer families are having the traditional fare. Itʼs too hectic to prepare and eat two meals just before going to bed, and so many are skipping straight to dinner.

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Filed under: Cultural Identity • Culture • Family Recipe Index • Holiday • Make • Ramadan • Ramadan • Recipes • Religion • Rituals

'Bars for Ramadan' article sparks online backlash
July 25th, 2012
07:45 PM ET
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An English-language magazine in Dubai has been accused of disrespecting Islam by recommending places to drink during Ramadan.

Time Out Dubai, a popular city guide in the Emirate, published the offending article in its Ramadan issue, which promised to help readers "make the most of the Holy Month."

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Filed under: Bars • Dietary Restrictions • Ramadan • Religion • Rituals • Sip • Taboos

July 25th, 2012
04:15 PM ET
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During the month of Ramadan, which began July 19 and continues through August 18, from dawn to dusk observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex in order to purify themselves, learn humility, pray and concentrate on Allah's teachings.

Dim sum and the art of patience
June 29th, 2012
02:00 PM ET
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Hieu Huynh is a writer producer at CNN On-Air Promotions. She is based in Atlanta, Georgia.

As the steam carts roll by, I caution my dining companions, "Never pick from the first one that comes along."

Eating dim sum is like a game of strategy and patience. The goal is to fill up on the good stuff, which usually means waiting as the cold and lifeless items pass by.

"Never pick the first?" my best friend asks. "Isn’t that almost like dating? If you're too quick, and just pick the first thing you see, you might miss out on something even better."

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Filed under: Asian • Chinese • Culture • Rituals

Barbecue Digest: And the bride wore BBQ sauce
June 27th, 2012
11:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: All summer long, the Southern Foodways Alliance will be delving deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. Dig in.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered in this post to celebrate the union of love and barbecue.

With the summer wedding season in full swing, love is in the air - and it is increasingly followed by the perfume of burning wood and smoking meat. Once confined to the South, more and more wedding rehearsal dinners and receptions across the country feature a barbecue-laden feast. Recently, as I was leaving his son's wedding, a Colorado barbecue man - by way of Opelousas, Louisiana - gave me a parting gift of some alligator meat to smoke.

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