Author Archives: Alexander Greenblatt

Razor Blade in Candy Apples

“When I was a little kid we used to go trick or treating and we would go to different people’s houses and you’d get some candy but you’d get candy apples and popcorn and peanut butter crackers and cakes a lot of the stuff was all home made stuff that people would give you. Then, one year, it all stopped and the reason why was there was a legend… there was a rumor that somebody had put razor blades to apples and given it to a kid and when he bit it he got cut up and all the… and then he had to go to the hospital and and it so all the kids said, don’t ummm eat anything that was prepared because it could have poison in it, it could have razor blades, it could have anything, and the parents they started saying, don’t eat anything and they were, they started taking if you did get some popcorn or something they would throw it out so that was the thing and even though there was nobody or any news story”

This is a fairly common story, I feel like the hysteria more common in suburban states such as Richmond—Where the informant is from where people are more cooped up and have a natural fear for their children to not get hurt as supposed to city kids who’s parents are less fearful for them.

Saci Perere

“Saci Perere is a Brazilian legend… that…it… he is… Sani Perere is a black boy with only one leg, a red cap, and a pipe in his mouth, so he keeps peeping…erm….smoking his pipe and the red hat…the red cap gives him the power of disappearing whenever… ummm… he feels like it or whenever he is a….ummmm… tricky situation. He is a prankster so he is always playing tricks in the country side people of Brazil. Like, he would hide the toys of the kids in the garden, or… not in the garden whatever… or he would make the cake not rise, or he would spoil the eggs… so that’s Saci Perere… so he’s a trickster but he’s not like… he doesn’t really do any bad deed so he is kind of loved by people around the country”

Saci is a fairly popular folkperson throughout Brazil, appearing on products, and television shows alike. Almost as recognizable as Robin Hood. He seems to be partly based in stereotypes around black people within Brazil who has constantly had fairly racist named folk beliefs and names for things. Even some early drawings of Saci Perere feature overblown racist features that one might find in a United States minstrel show.

Wherever You Go You Are There

“Wherever you go… are there…which means, no matter where you move to, you still are… you are gonna be… yourself”

This proverb probably comes from the informant’s direct experience as an immigrant. Probably many circles of immigrants have this proverb as a way to connect back to their roots from home. It’s a proverb that exists within the community a sort of rule to not move away from your roots and that as far as one may leave home, at the end of the day, they are still themselves.

Do you want to have your cake and eat it too?

“I heard this when I fist move to the U.S… it’s used when a person wants it all ,and you think they should be happy with less… We don’t have that in Brazil… in Brazil we eat the cake… I don’t like the expression”

This is an outsiders view of an American proverb to not be greedy or selfish expressing the American ideal of being a self made man that should be happy with his simple life while this person’s world view says pretty much the opposite of that.

Tenth Between First and A

“We live in the East Village in New York City and there is one street I will never go down… that is tenth street between First Avenue and Avenue A. The reason I developed this superstition is because I ride my bike everywhere in the city and I… rarely would go down Tenth and first…between First and A… anyway and one time I parked my bike between tenth and first and A and my wheel was gone… somebody had stolen it. People had always warned me about that street… that a lot of people steal bikes on tenth between First and A… but later I parked my bike on Tenth between First and A again and my front wheel was stolen.”

This superstition seems to derive from some sort of fact that many people in New York have had the same experience within that same city block and the belief seemed sprout up that the block was either cursed or part of some sort of hangout for bicycle thieves. Either the belief lead to it actually being true—in the sense that bicycle thieves got the idea to steal bikes from that block from the belief, or the belief sprouted from some sort of truth.

Roast Chicken Recipe

“Roast chicken is something that everybody loves and it’s great when somebody wants a homey dinner or a guest… so here’s the recipe… I’ve learned it from various people but I’ve changed it and made it my own… You take a cookie sheet… you cut root vegetables carrots, potatoes, onions, whatever you want and put them down. Then over the cookie sheet, you put a roasting pan grill. Take the grill out of the roasting pan and put it on the cookie sheet. Then you take your roasted chicken your roasted chicken… wash it and dry it very carefully… Then you take… thyme… rosemary… salt and pepper and my secret ingredient which is baking powder and you put it all in a blender and you blend it so it’s fine. almost like dust. and you take that… mixture and you put it all over the bird and inside the bird’s cavity. You don’t put anything inside the bird’s cavity at all. You keep everything empty and then you put the bird on top of the ummm… pan… grill… wire… then you ummm… preheat the oven to four hundred and fifty degrees which is very hot then you take the chicken and put it in the oven for four hundred and fifty degrees. Because there is nothing stuffed in it like lemon or anything like that, it’s empty it’s gonna cook very quickly and hour fifteen or an hour and a half depends on the size of the bird. very quickly. When it comes out the skin is very crisp. all of the juices and fat have gone into the root vegetables at the bottom of the tray and it’s very good. The perfect way to cook a chicken”


This cooking seems to be less traditional as it utilizes modern cooking techniques. It seems to be a very modern piece of folklore derived from various new methods of cooking weather they be based in folklore or fact. The informant isn’t very sure where he got said methods.

Eating In Chinese Restaurant on Christmas

“Ok… the tradition is every umm year for Christmas Eve or ummm Christmas Day we are Jewish, we do in fact go to a Chinese restaurant to eat ummm dinner and it’s a very silly thing. and we do it because we heard about the tradition and it’s a very… you know… as somebody who’s Jewish, you do feel a little out of place during Christmas because it’s all consuming everywhere in society and so it’s kind of like a funny thing that’s become a tradition of actually participating in your own way christmas which is if you’re Jewish you go to a Chinese restaurant so… it’s…that’s… it’s funny it’s almost like a counter tradition or a part of the tradition of Christmas that a Jewish person would eat in a Chinese restaurant”

That’s interesting about this tradition is that it isn’t really traditional to Jewish culture, it’s a very new thing for Jewish people to celebrate christmas in this way. It’s a way to feel included within Christmas. The informant seems to have gotten the tradition from his peers. He is from New York City which does have a high population of Jewish people. The fact that New York City has this high population of Jewish people seems to permeate the culture of his current residency.

Sphinx Riddle

“Okay… so I don’t remember where I heard this riddle I must have been extremely young. But I remember it very vividly because I thought it was so cool and I don’t know what it’s called but I remember how it goes. So a Sphinx… when you’re walking down a path and you’re just trying to keep walking but a Sphinx is in your way and so…in order to get past the Sphinx the Sphinx will never let you pass and I think it kills you if you don’t answer the riddle correctly… but the only way to pass is to answer a riddle correctly and this is the riddle the Sphinx asks, ‘what walks on four legs in the morning, two legs during the day, and three legs in the evening’ and nobody ever gets it right so the Sphinx always kills them or doesn’t let them pass, I don’t remember if they kill them or don’t let them pass but the correct answer is a person like a human being because when you’re a baby you crawl on four legs and when you are an adult, you walk on two, and when you’re an old man, you walk on two and your third is a cane and that’s how the Sphinx gets ya”

This is a fairly common folktale if one had studied greek legends. what I enjoy about this folklore is that it’s both a story. A folktale about a Sphinx that kills people, but it’s also a riddle as well. There is a riddle within the story. It’s very Shakespearean in that sense.

Cherry Blossom Festival

“Every year in D.C… Washington D.C., there’s what’s called a Cherry Blossom Festival. And ummm… it’s in the spring and it… happens each year when all of the cherry blossom trees… blossom… I guess…ummm… and… it’s super cool because everything is that bright washed out shade of pink and there are pedals everywhere especially after the festival is over and like the trees like… and the pedals have fallen everywhere because of the wind. I used to think it was super cool when I was like eight, but now I just think it’s kind of a nuisance because it happens every year but it creates a ton of traffic and I can’t get where I need to go… And it happens in D.C. and like in Annapolis there’s like… that’s like an hour’s distance and there’s still traffic so it is a gridlock nightmare but it’s still a super cool part of D.C. that not a lot of people that… don’t spend a lot of time in D.C. realize. So it’s a fun tradition”

This one is a modern festival based on a natural phenomenon. We don’t usually have that many new festivals based on these phenomenons in modern day. We don’t celebrate the winter solstice or anything really but this seems to be a festival representational off of a new age of spring and the aesthetic beauty of the cherry blossoms of Washington D.C.

Chinese, Japanese, Look At These, Hit My Knees

“I had an ummm…. sort of racist I mean it was very racist, I think this might have been in the Devils Rejects, was it in the devil’s rejects? I think it was anyways I did the same thing as the people in the Devil’s Rejects did in elementary school… not murdering people… but this demented nursery rhyme… it went sort of like ‘Chinese, Japanese, look at these hit my knees*’ it was very racist and I think that’s why we did it and even the Japanese kids in our class did it…. ummmmm…. We knew it was bad and we did it anyways (laughs)”

*note the informant does motions with his hands when he says “Chinese” he stretches his eyes length wise, “Japanese” he stretches them width wise, “Look at these” he motions towards his chest as if to insinuate breasts, “Hit my knees” fairly self explanatory, the speaker hits his knees.

I found this one interesting because it’s a rhyme that’s clearly at the level where it’s made for kids. It’s very intentionally crude as sort of a taboo rhyme. It was a horrible non sensical thing to say but it whoever said it felt like they were breaking rules. This probably added to the fun of the rhyme.