Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Venetian Song to the Hermit Crab (or Paguro)

We were supposed to go to Sant' Erasmo again last Sunday with friends in their boat but--and I hate to say this because of the awful heat in parts of the US--it was actually too cold. A storm came in Saturday night with high winds, rain, thunder and lightning, and the winds and colder temperatures stayed through Sunday.

I was hoping to take a photo of the hermit crabs one finds off Sant' Erasmo (and elsewhere in this area) to illustrate the following very short Venetian song which will, based upon what I witnessed on our first visit to Sant' Erasmo, coax even the shyest paguro out of its shell.

Though perhaps "coax" is not quite the right word, as the song basically makes the little crab an offer it can't refuse.

                                    Bovolo, bovolo 
                                    Vien' fora
                                    Se no 
                                    Te magno.

                                    Snail, snail
                                    Come out
                                    If you don't
                                    I will eat you.

The first two words of the song are of course familiar from the famous Scala Contarini del Bovolo staircase near Campo Manin. And the song is also sung to garden variety snails which, unlike i paguri, are actually eaten.  (My Sicilian grandmother in California would capture her garden snails, imprison them in a glass jar and feed them a steady diet of either parsley or bread for a particular length of time I've now forgotten, and then cook them up. For herself alone, as no one else would eat them. I don't recall that she ever sang to them.)

I think that pasta e paguro has a nice ring to it, but I guess when it comes to cooking a catchy name only goes so far.

In the course of looking for an illustration for this entry I found more than I was expecting when I came upon a report online that researchers in Belfast have discovered that i paguri not only feel pain but also have memory. The short article is in Italian, and here is the link, along with the image of a particularly photogenic paguro that goes with it:


It's enough to make a guy feel guilty for singing such a bullying song to them, even if the tune itself is rather sweet and lullaby-like.