Among the Malays who live in the highlands of the island of Langkawi on the northern coast of Malaysia, there is a belief that breast milk is derived from blood, and that therefore any child who is breastfed becomes family. People in Langkawi say, 'If you drink the same milk you become kin. You become one blood, one flesh' (Carsten, 1995). Furthermore, if one eats rice from the same hearth, one becomes kin. Blood, milk, rice and hearth are of one substance. To be fed milk or rice from the mother creates an emotional bond, but even more substantially, it creates kinship, so that children who have suckled at the same breast or eaten rice cooked on the same hearth may not marry, even if they are not related in any way at a biological level. Such beliefs are a world away from Western ideas of food and kinship and they point up how food, eating practices and beliefs are intricately tied up with each other in all our cultures in ways we almost always take for granted within our own cultural setting. But the lesson from the Malays of Langkawi is that when we come across people from other cultures we cannot assume that their beliefs and habits will be the same as our own, even if when viewed from the outside, their day-to-day practices of food preparation and their eating arrangements appear to fit our norms.