Are you familiar with Cap O’Rushes? She was the princess banished from her own fine home after her father foolishly believed her sisters’ superficial adoration instead of Cap’s wise exclamation of “as meat loves salt.” How insecure must a father be to require his daughters to one-by-one try to surpass each other as the most dutiful daughter? Yet, Cap loves him anyway with such wholesome sweetness that she is misunderstood and banished. In the woods she fashions a dress and cap from the rushes growing there in order to cover her royal finery. Though it’s hard to believe a privileged young lady would know how to make clothes out of plants, the costume is sufficient to help her get a job as a kitchen maid in a neighboring palace.
Except she cannot stop herself from dancing (in her fine ladies clothes) at the palace’s nightly balls. There she meets and dances with the prince, who falls in love with her, and proposes after only three nights of dancing. The mysterious Cap O’Rushes declines the marriage offer causing the young man to declare he will die of unrequited love. Being a prince of his word he sets about to do so. Cap, who perhaps wasn’t interested in working as a kitchen maid any longer, slips his ring into his bowl of gruel.
But, it’s not happily ever after yet. Cap is still at odds with her father. Mending that familial tie would probably go a long way to getting along with her new in-laws (who still think of her as a kitchen maid) and to combining the two lands into one empire. Her father, now blind and miserable, attends the wedding as a guest. Cap convinces the chef to leave salt out of all the dishes in order to be reunited with her now tearfully repentant father. As the father is eating the unseasoned wedding feast he starts to cry because for the first time he realizes that Cap O’Rushes loved him best. Cap really is a conniving young lady.
I read this story in a third-grade Junior Great Book club. It was my favorite part of school. Instead of quiet reading time, I discussed reading with a few classmates. There were no right or wrong answers, no worksheets, no tests, only thinking and reading. The time was too short lived, but while it lasted — sigh — I knew nothing better. Cap O’Rushes, the brave tailor, the turtle who escaped without a shell, and the young lady with the curly hair are characters I’ve never forgotten. I couldn’t tell you about any of the stories we read in class. Even all the fill-in-the-blank worksheets didn’t make those lessons stick.
The cheesy connection would be that those classroom lessons — served to appeal to the masses — were instead unseasoned meals, with nothing sweet and nothing savory.
Pictured above: Bread rounds topped with a spicy honey goat cheese, honey roasted brussels sprouts drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and a slice of prosciutto — salted meat.