Word of the Week: Tyromancy

cheeseSo I am a total geek.  I will admit it.  Usually when I drive, I have my radio on NPR.  Yesterday, I was listening to Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s show, The Splendid Table.  I am also a bit of a foodie.  I can talk food anyplace, anytime.  So for me this is a great show, and I can get some good ideas about cooking.  Well, yesterday’s trivia question was about the word Tyromancy, which I found fascinating.

Tyromancy is divination by cheese – by the interpretation of the signs that appear as the cheese coagulates. Unfortunately, no book written by an enlightened one has appeared to help us read those signs, so we must make it up as we go along, or rely on our intuitive interpretation.  The word tyromancy is derived from the Greek tūros (‘cheese’) and manteia (‘prophecy’).

job_interview_fortune_tellerDuring the Middle Ages, Tyromancy was used to predict the future by looking at the shape, number of holes, pattern of the mold and other characteristics of the cheese. It was also practiced to prognosticate love, money and death.

Tyromancy was also used by young maidens in countryside villages to predict the names of their future husbands. They write the names of their prospective suitors on separate pieces of cheese and the one whose name was on the piece of cheese where molds grew first was believed to be the ideal love mate.

Another method involves writing the possible answers to a question on separate pieces of cheese and placing them in a cage with hungry rodent. The piece that the mouse ate first will be the answer to the question. This form of divination was related to Myomancy.

Omens were also drawn from the patters and designs formed by the coagulation of cheese.

Here’s a recipe that might tell us who our future husband will be:

Camembert Divination Toast

  • 1 Camembert Cheese
  • slices of Graham or Boston brown bread or crackers
  • salt and paprika
  1. Remove the crust from a creamy Camembert cheese, spread the cheese thickly on slices of bread or crackers,
  2. dust with salt and paprika, and bake in a quick oven – 375 degrees F. – from five to eight minutes, or until the surface of the cheese is golden brown.

In Mrs. Allen on cooking, menus, service: 2500 recipes; 1924

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

5 responses to “Word of the Week: Tyromancy

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