4. A Trickster Menu: Food offerings for Eshu in Umbanda

Tasting Religion - Graham Harvey

Patricia Rodrigues de Souza [+-]
Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil
Patricia Rodrigues de Souza has been a Chef de cuisine and is currently a PhD student in religious studies at the Pontifical University of São Paulo, Brazil. She has taught Brazilian cookery and lectured on food studies. Patricia has observed religions, specially Brazilian Candomblé, through the lenses of food practices and has published a book in which she compares religions in terms of food practices: (“Religion at the table: a sample of religions and their food practices”).


Eshu is the African trickster God, naturalized in Brazil after slavery. He is present in every Afro-Brazilian religion occupying different positions: guardian, master, god and trickster, some other religions even attribute him the post of Demon. His place and functions can be confusing, for this is part of his character. He transits across epistemological binarisms always taking devotees out of their comfort zone and that’s probably why it is so difficult for most cartesian minds to understand him or his advices. In addition, Umbanda is itself a religion that subverts many values, for devotees to get advised, in spiritual consultations, by spirits of former African slaves, native Indians, gypsies, mistresses and many who have been despised and oppressed in history. Umbanda has been a very decentralized and dynamic religion showing no pattern in its rituals, liturgic calendars or hierarchy of spirits, each Umbanda temple’s character is reflected on its food practices. Within this deconstructing context, preparing Eshus’ food offerings is no less tricky, there are not clear and “universal” principles for Eshu’s food preparation, whoever is designated to prepare their food has to learn it straight from the spirits, whom, incorporated in the mediums in trance, tell her/him what they want to eat, how it should be prepared, when and where it can be offered. In this chapter I seek to explore the preparation of foods to be offered to the Eshus of Templo da Liberdade Tupinambá, an Umbanda temple located in Rio de Janeiro.

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de Souza, Patricia. 4. A Trickster Menu: Food offerings for Eshu in Umbanda. Tasting Religion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Feb 2024. ISBN 9781000000000. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=44087. Date accessed: 07 Dec 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44087. Feb 2024

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