The Folklore Food Blog: Cattarinetta




Once upon a time, there was a mother who had a little daughter named Cattarinetta. One day she wanted to bake a cake and so she sent the girl to borrow a pan from her aunt, who was a wicked witch. The aunt gave the pan to the girl, saying, “Don’t forget to bring me a piece of cake.”

The cake was baked, and as soon as it was done the mother cut off a piece and put it in the pan, which the girl was to take back to the aunt. The delicious piece of cake tempted the girl, and as she walked along she pinched off one bite after the other and ate it until finally there was nothing left in the pan. She was terrified, but she thought of a trick that would help her. She picked up a cow pie from the path and laid it in the pan so that it looked like a piece of cake with brown crust.

“Did you bring me the pan and a piece of cake?” asked the aunt as Cattarinetta arrived.

“Yes,” said the girl, then set the pan down and ran away hurriedly.

Cattarinetta arrived back home, and when night fell she went to bed. Then suddenly she heard her aunt’s voice calling, “Cattarinetta, I am coming. I am already at your front door!”

The girl slid further down into her bed, but the voice called out at short intervals again and again:
“Cattarinetta, I am coming. I am already on the stairway!”
“Cattarinetta, I am coming. I am already just outside your door!”
“Cattarinetta, I am coming. I am already beside your bed!”
And slurp! She swallowed up the girl.

Source: Christian Schneller, “Cattarinetta,” Märchen und Sagen aus Wälschtirol (Innsbruck: Verlag der Wagner’schen Universitäts-Buchhandlung, 1867), no. 5, pp. 8-9.

Every Recipe Has a Story.

Poor Cattarinetta, what if she had been able to resist temptation? Does the desire of food drive the individual to seek a solution? Did food become the fate controlling her life? What cake would you make for a wicked witch?

Culinary Folklore: A Study of Fiction as an Influence in Traditional Foodways Practices.

In Foodways, foods eaten have histories associated with the pasts of those who eat them; the techniques employed to find, process, prepare, serve and consume. Those practices are taught through story often from parent to child or by peers and other media sources.

People who love to cook have stories of their own special ways of preparation, methods they state makes a dish special. These stories come from the home cook to the professional chef. There are also many narrative elements in folktales, ballads, myths, fables, medieval romances, exempla, fabliaux, jest-books, and local legends relating to the preparation and consumption of food.

Food is essential to survival and to one’s well-being. However, as several anthropological studies have shown, food is much more than just nutrition, ingredients and the factual eating; it is about social relations, ethics, individual choices and self-expression, and much more.

This study asks; What qualifies?





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