Hassar (Cascadura) - Not an ordinary fish!

>> Saturday, 5 July 2008

"Those who eat the cascadura will, the native legend says, wheresoever they may wander end in Trinidad their days. " (Johnson and the Cascadura, Selvon, 1957)


That's right, here in the Caribbean we too have food filled with legends and folklore. This week's column is about the prized member of the catfish family that in Guyana and Brasil is called hassar and in Trinidad & Tobago, Cascadura or Cascadoo. Read all about it here.

Hassar Curry

Here's a synopsis of the story Johnson & The Cascadura

Johnson and the Cascadura is a fictional short story about a white Englishman, Garry Johnson, who went to Trinidad “to get background material for a book he was writing, on superstition and witchcraft.” While there, Johnson met an Indian girl, Urmilla, who worked on the estate where Johnson was staying. The two fell in love. They were from different worlds, he a white, affluent man, and she an uneducated country girl. Rumours of their love circulated and there was disquiet and disapproval.

Johnson decided to return to England. The night before he was due to return, Urmilla brought him some curry cascadura she had made, believing in the folklore that, “Those who eat the cascadura will, the native legend says, wheresoever they may wander end in Trinidad their days.”

Johnson returned to England and wrote his book. Three years later, he was diagnosed with a rare blood disease. Doctors did not give him much time to live and so he wanted to go back to Trinidad.

Upon his return, Johnson and Urmilla began planning their wedding. Sam, the overseer who had unrequited love for Urmilla said to Johnson, “So the cascadura legend really worked, and brought you back to Trinidad.”

“I can’t get Urmilla to believe otherwise,” Johnson laughed.

Urmilla was positive that the cascadura had worked the charm.

Now go read the column.

This week at Forgive Me My Nonsense... Imitation, Flattery or just plain cheating?

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