AppLit Home Appalachian Tales of Strong Women Tina L. Hanlon

"Like Meat Loves Salt" and "Rush Cape"


"Like Meat Loves Salt." In Richard Chase, Grandfather Tales. Boston: Houghton, 1948, pp. 124-29. With two drawings by Berkeley Williams, Jr. This tale contains the father-daughter conflict found in other tales in which a proud rich man rejects his youngest daughter, until he realizes she is more honest than her two sisters when she declares that she loves him "like meat loves salt." Chase's source notes express surprise that the version he heard from a seventh-grade girl in Wise, Virginia was so similar to the plot of King Lear, with a Duke of England rescuing the exiled daughter from a tower on the prairie and defeating her enemies in battle. Like other fairy tales, however, this one ends happily when father and daughter are reconciled, without the tragic denouement of the Shakespeare play. Storyteller Elinor Benjamin told Chase's version in a fund-raising program available as a YouTube video, 2015, 9:34 minutes. "Broadcast on Rogers Cable for the Children's Wish Foundation Telecast 2005."Like Meat Loves Salt dramatization

"Like Meat Loves Salt." Story theatre dramatization directed by Rex Stephenson. Ferrum College Summer Enrichment Camp, 2016. The middle-school-aged students developed their dramatization with guidance from Stephenson. Photo at right from performance on July 1, 2016, at the end of the second week of one-week camp classes. For more photos, see The Jack Tales' Facebook photo album (photo by Kristina Stump).

"Like Meat Loves Salt." A comic, musical adaptation of the tale by Theater at Lime Kiln, near Lexington, VA, 2003.

"Rush Cape." In Richard Chase, American Folk Tales and Songs, and Other Examples of English-American Tradition as Preserved in the Appalachian Mountains and Elsewhere in the United States. Illus. Joshua Tolford. New York: New American Library of World Literature, 1956. Rpt. New York: Dover, 1971, pp. 31-35. "Based on information from Mrs. Milton F. Hears of Abingdon, Virginia, and on Kentucky and Tennessee versions received through Lois Fenn of Kansas." When turned out by her father because she says she loves him "like bread loves salt" and will some day love a young man better, the youngest daughter of the King of England makes herself a cape of rushes, hiding her beauty and position until she is ready to reveal herself to a prince. She works in his kitchen and decides to go to his dances as her beautiful self. Later the king's men can't find her but she chooses when to return the ring the prince gave her. After they are married, her father appears as a beggar and recognizes her when she serves him a dinner with no salt in it. Chase notes the existence of parallel tales elsewhere in North America.

Ellis, Elizabeth. Like Meat Loves Salt. Sound cassette. Dallas, TX: New Moon Rising, 1984. Contains "The Peddler's Dream," "Owl," "The Dancing Man," "The Magic Box,"  "Like Meat Loves Salt," "How Grandmother Spider Stitched the Earth and the Sky Together." Ellis, a native of the Kentucky mountains, is a popular storyteller at the National Storytelling Festival. She also tells this tale in the video E-stories: 20 Tales from Around the World, Volume 1. Baltimore, MD: Enoch Pratt Free Library, 2004. Page on Elizabeth Ellis at Enoch Pratt Free Library, Pittsburgh.

Ellis, Elizabeth. "Like Meat Loves Salt." In Homespun: Tales from America's Favorite Storytellers. Ed. Jimmy Neil Smith. New York: Avon, 1994. "More than 30 popular tales and anecdotes about the storytellers, and a how-to section for readers to create and tell their own stories."

Blake, Connie Regan. "Like Meat Loves Salt." Reading in 2011 at Key West Literary Seminar. Audio file available on request from the seminar's Audio Archives.

Forbes, Kate. "Like Meat Loves Salt." In Handed Down: Tales from Southern Appalachia. Stories for Everyone, 2012. Two-CD audio book with Richard Chase tales, by an actress who returned from an international career to live in Chattanooga, where these recordings were produced with voices and music from other performers as well as Forbes. See background in Bailey, Rich. "Old Tales, New Voices." The Pulse [Chattanooga, TN]: 28 June 2012.

Spelman, Jon, and Chuck Larkin. American Storytelling, Volume Four. Storytel Enterprises, 1986. Videocassette, 32 min. "Jon Spelman and Chuck Larkin present two tall tales. In the 'Grass Cape' the youngest daughter loves her father 'like meat loves salt.' 'Mr. Bass' is the ultimate fish story."

Ransom, Candice. Finding Day's Bottom. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 2006. In this novel for children about a Virginia girl mourning the death of her father in a sawmill accident in the 1950s, her grandfather tells her three folktales (based on Richard Chase's versions in Grandfather Tales): "Gallymanders! Gallymanders!" "Like Meat Loves Salt," and "Whitebear Whittington." "To Jane-Eryís surprise, Grandpapís funny ways and strange stories bring her a comfort she never expected" (from publisher's book description). See more on this book in Folklore Themes in Longer Appalachian Fiction.

These tales are discussed by Nina Mikkelsen in "Strange Pilgrimages: Cinderella Was a Trickster—And Other Unorthodoxies of American and African-American Heroic Folk Figures." A Necessary Fantasy? The Heroic in Children's Popular Culture. Children's Literature and Culture Series. Eds. Dudley Jones and Tony Watkins. New York: Garland, 2000, pp. 21-50. Mikkelsen says Chase's "Rush Cape" is "richer in detail and characterization" than Joseph Jacobs' tale, arguing that in "Rush Cape" and other Appalachian tales, "seeking one's fortune . . . suggests greater pride, great initiative, and independence" than in European Cinderella and Cap o' Rushes tales. Chase's heroine is more like the men in other folktales, following the road that leads not just to a ball but to "a wider life of action." She makes her own clothes and makes her own choices, finding a prince "as clever as she is" (pp. 41-42).

See also these Appalachian tales:



"The King with Seven Sons." Told by Margie Day, 1952. Leonard Ward Roberts Collection, Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives. In this tale, the king doesn't want a daughter and never behaves well. He has seven sons and they want to hunt all the time, until the sons fall in a ravine and die. After a daughter is born, two army men leave her on a cliff and she is raised by a bear. The king immediately regrets abandoning her. After his wife and sons die later, the daughter, who can run and hunt hogs as well as men and bears, wanders into the palace. She and the king had both been lonely, and the king tries to keep her, but she escapes repeatedly because he is mean and cares only about hunting. They agree to a three-mile race to determine whom she will marry, but she doesn't want to marry. Men who can't outrun her are killed. A man she had met earlier brings three golden apples to the race. The third time she is tempted to turn back and pick up a golden apple, the man is able to beat her. They marry and live happily, while the king dies. (This plot is very similar to the Greek myth about the princess Atalanta, unwanted by her cruel father, raised by a bear, and eventually beaten in a race by the man who loves her and throws three golden apples in the path.)

Compare these Appalachian tales with:

"Love Like Salt: Folktales of Types 923 and 510." Texts of parallel tales from different countries of the world. D. L. Ashliman's Folktexts. Ed. D. L. Ashliman, Univ. of Pittsburgh, 1998-2013.

"Donkeyskin." Heidi Anne Heiner lists "Like Meat Loves Salt" in her "Donkeyskin" section, page with Related Tales. SurLaLuneFairyTales.com. This site also reprints "Cap o' Rushes" by Joseph Jacobs, from English Fairy Tales. London: David Nutt, 1890. (In Jacobs' English Fairy Tales, 3rd ed. 1898. Rpt. New York:  Dover, 1967. pp. 51-58, this tale appears with notes on links to Shakespeare and older Cinderella stories.)

"The Dirty Shepherdess" from Andrew Lang's The Green Fairy Book, 1892, is reprinted at Internet Sacred Text Archive, 2011. When a king's second daughter is banished for saying she loves her father like salt, she hides her beauty with beggar's rags and ashes and takes work as a shepherdess. She meets a prince who pines for her until she sends him one of her rings, he vows to marry the one who fits the ring, and after the shepherdess is sent for, she reveals her true self. She sends for her father and feeds him bread without salt on her wedding day, so he will recognize that "salt was the best thing in life."

The Way Meat Loves Salt: A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish Tradition by Nina Jaffe. Illus. Louise August. Henry Holt, 1998. After the misunderstood sister is driven away for saying she loves her father (a rabbi in Poland) "the way meat loves salt," Elijah the Prophet gives her magical help that enables her to find a worthy husband, as in Ashpet and Cinderella tales. 

Greene, Ellin. "Cap O' Rushes." In Best Loved Stories Told at the National Storytelling Festival. Jonesborough, Tennessee: National Storytelling Press, 1991. pp. 91-95.

Salt Is Sweeter Than Gold by Andrew Peters. Illus. Zdenka Kabatova-Taborska. Shambhala Publications, 1994. A Czech fairy tale in which the salt image has a different twist. The misunderstood daughter says she loves the king her father more than salt, which he appreciates after all the salt in the land is washed away by a storm.

Moss Gown by William H. Hooks begins with the daughters' test of loyalty and then develops like "Catskin." See Catskins.

King Lear by William Shakespeare. For teaching materials, see Folger Shakespeare Library web site.

See Like Meat Loves Salt and Cap O' Rushes sections, with detailed annotations on these and other tales in Cinderella Bibliography by Russell Peck, Univ. of Rochester.

Links checked June 21, 2020   |   Top of Page   |   Last update 6/21/20


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