Roman Legends: A Collection of the Fables and Folk-lore of Rome | Annotated Tale

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Wooing of Cassandro, The


'DID you ever hear of Sor Cassandro?'

               'No, never.'

               'Do you know where Panìco is?'

               'I know the Via di Panìco [2] which leads down to Ponte S. Angelo.'

               'Very well; at the end of Panìco [3] there is a frying-shop, [4] which, many years ago, was kept by an old man with a comely daughter. Both were well known all over the Rione.

               'One day there came an old gentleman, with a wig and tights, and a comical old-fashioned dress altogether, and said to the shopkeeper--

               '"I've observed that daughter of yours many days as I have passed by, and should like to make her my wife."

               '"It's a great honour for me, Sor Cassandro, that you should talk of such a thing," answered the old man; and he said "Sor Cassandro" like that because everybody knew old Sor Cassandro with his wig, and his gold-knobbed stick, and his tights, and his old-fashioned gait. "But," he added, as a knowing way of getting out of it, "you see it wouldn't do for a friggitora to marry a gentleman; a friggitora must marry a friggitore."

               '"I don't know that that need be a bar," replied Sor Cassandro.

               '"You don't understand me, Sor Cassandro," pursued the man.

               '"Yes, I understand perfectly," answered the other. "You mean that if she must marry a friggitore, I must become a friggitore."

               '"You a friggitore, Sor Cassandro! That would never do. How could you so demean yourself?"

               '"Love makes all sweet," responded Sor Cassandro. "You've only to show me what to do and I'll do it as well as anyone."

               'The friggitore was something of a wag, and the idea of the prim little Sor Cassandro turned into a journeyman friggitore tickled his fancy, and he let him follow his bent.

               'The next morning Sor Cassandro was at Panìco as soon as the shop was open. They gave him a white jacket and a large white apron, and put a white cap on his head, with a carnation stuck in it. And the whole neighbourhood gathered round the shop to see Sor Cassandro turned into a friggitore. The work of the shop was increased tenfold, and it was well there was an extra hand to help at it.

               'Sor Cassandro was very patient, and adapted himself to his work surprisingly well, and though the master fryer took a pleasure in ordering him about, he submitted to all with good grace, and not only did he make him do the frying and serving out to perfection, but he even taught him to clip his words and leave off using any expression that seemed inappropriate to his new station. [5]

               'There was no denying that Sor Cassandro had become a perfect friggitore, and no exception could be taken to him on that score. As soon as he felt himself perfect he did not fail to renew his suit.

               'The father was puzzled what objection to make next. He knew, however, that Sor Cassandro was very miserly, so he said, "You've made yourself a friggitore to please me, now you must do something to please the girl. Suppose you bring her some trinkets, if you can spare the price of them."

               '"Oh, anything for love!" answered Sor Cassandro; and the next day he brought a pair of earrings.

               '"How did she like my earrings?" he whispered next night to her father.

               '"Oh, pretty well!" replied the father. "You might try something more in that style."

               'The next day he brought her a necklace, the next day a shawl, and after that he brought fifty scudi to buy clothes such as a girl should have when she's going to be married.

               'After all this he asked for the girl herself.

               '"You must take her," said the father, and Sor Cassandro went to take her. But she was a sprightly, impulsive girl, and the moment he came near her she screamed out--

               '"Get away, horrid old man!" [6] and wouldn't let him approach her.

               '"Leave her alone to-night, and try to-morrow. I'll try to bring her round in the meantime."

               'Sor Cassandro came next day; but the girl was more violent than ever, and would say nothing but "Get away, horrid old man!"

               'Finding this went on day after day without amendment, Sor Cassandro indignantly asked for his presents back.

               '"You shall have them!" cried the girl, and the clothes she tore up to rags, and the trinkets she broke to atoms and threw them all at him.

               'But for the rest of his life, wherever he went, the boys cried after him, "Sor Cassandro, la friggitora! Sor Cassandro, la friggitora!"'



[1] 'Lo Sposalizio di Sor Cassandro.' For 'Sor' see p. 194.

[2] The 'Via di Panìco' is so called, according to Rufini, because on a bit of ancient sculpture built into the wall of one of the houses where it had been dug up as is so commonly done in Rome, the people thought they saw the likeness of some ears of millet, panìco, and birds pecking them.

[3] Just as at Oxford, men say 'the High' and 'the Corn,' &c, it is very common in Rome to use the name of a street omitting the word Via.

[4] 'Friggitoria,' an open shop where all manner of fried dishes very popular among the lower classes, and varying according to the time of year, are made and sold; three or four or more enormous pans of oil and of lard are kept boiling, and at one season fish, at another rice-balls, at another artichokes, &c. &c, always previously dipped into light batter, are cooked therein to a bright gold colour. On St. Joseph's Day, as it always falls in Lent, a meagre festa-dish is made of balls of batter fried in oil, in as universal request as our pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. A writer in the 'Giovedi' mentions two popular traditions on the connexion between the 'frittelle' or 'frittatelli' and St. Joseph. One is that St. Joseph was wont to make such a dish for his meal by frying them with the shavings from his bench, in the same dangerous way that you may see those of his trade heating their glue in any carpenter's shop in Rome. The other, that on occasion of the Visitation, the B. Virgin and St. Elizabeth remained so long in ecstatic conversation that the dinner was forgotten, and St. Joseph took the liberty allowed to so near a relation of possessing himself of a frying-pan and preparing a dish of 'frittelle.'

               The writer already quoted narrates in another paper that the 'friggitori' formerly plied their trade in the open air, but one day a cat escaping from the attentions of an admirer she did not choose to encourage, sprang from a low roof adjoining, right into the frying-pan of a 'friggitore' full as it was of boiling oil and spluttering 'frittelle'; the cat overturned the frying-pan, setting herself on fire, and carrying a panic together with a stream of flaming oil into the midst of the crowd in waiting for their 'frittelle.' Since that day the 'friggitore' fries under cover, though still in open shops.

[5] Great part of the fun of the story consisted of jokes upon these technicalities which it would be too tedious to reproduce and explain.

[6] 'Brutto vecchiaccio!' ugly, horrid old man.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Wooing of Cassandro, The
Tale Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Book Title: Roman Legends: A Collection of the Fables and Folk-lore of Rome
Book Author/Editor: Busk, Rachel Harriette
Publisher: Estes and Lauriat
Publication City: Boston
Year of Publication: 1877
Country of Origin: Italy
Classification: unclassified

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