Anansi and the Market Pig, A Jamaican Tale
by Phillip Martin
Sometimes I collect my folk tales from a local storyteller when I am on location painting my murals. Yes, absolutely, that is the best way to get a tale. But, it isn’t nearly as easy to do as you might think. So, very frequently, I have to research folk tale collections to get the perfect story for me to rewrite. I know it’s my opinion, and it may not always be so humble about it, but I think I’m pretty good with the rewriting process. And, when you read this tale, anything that rhymes (and that’s the whole story) is my contribution. I’ve gotten pretty good at rattling it off at high speed. One of my friends laughed as I read the tale to her. I asked, “Do you think you can read it that fast?” She replied, “I can’t ever listen that fast.”
I was very excited about going to Jamaica to paint murals with the U.S. Embassy, and I was equally excited about finding a Spider story. I had collected similar stories when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia. And, West African slaves brought these stories with them to the New World.
For reasons that I’ll never understand, my trip to Jamaica was rescheduled over and over (five times!) in a process that lasted more than a year. I really wasn’t sure if I was ever going to make it to that corner of the Caribbean. But, when I finally set foot in Kingston, I not only had a very entertaining story written, but the book was hot off the press!
I shared my book with students at a local art college who also helped me with my murals. They were delighted that a visiting American artist took the time to research one of their Jamaican stories to share with them. But, it was a learning experience for me as well.
the tale, Spider wants to get his pig across a creek. And, since he’s Spider, he wants to do it for free. As the story progresses, a variety of characters pass by the creek. Each of them was threatened if they didn’t help. At one point, a butcher -- ready to slice up a bull -- asks, “Would you like one patty or two?” When I wrote that line, of course, I thought about beef patties for a hamburger. I mean, what else could it mean?
Well, the word “patty” means something entirely different in Jamaica. It’s a flaky pastry that is stuffed with a variety of deliciousness. That goodness could include chicken, jerk chicken, cheese, shrimp, tuna, spinach, vegetables, and of course, beef. I guess you can always make them at home, but in Jamaica, it seems to be perfectly acceptable to get your patties at a local fast food place called Tastee. You can get them at other shops, but it is common knowledge that you should go to Tastee. In fact, after the lesson, it’s where I went to eat patties with my students.
Pages: 32, Illustrated
This product was added to our catalog on Monday 09 November, 2020.