Uncle Dump

Uncle Dump

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Uncle Dump, or barba Zhucon, in the Venetian dialect, is a popular character of the Venetian folklore. They say that Uncle Dump, an old bearded guy, lives in the attic and comes out to eat the children that don’t behave well. This is the story of Uncle Dump written by the writer Andrea Zanzotto, which in the original version is presented both in Italian and in Treviso dialect (one of the varieties of the Venetian dialect). 

Once upon a time there were a mother and a daughter. It was Carnival period and they wanted to make some frittelle. The mother started looking for the pan, but could not find it anywhere, and wanted to give up. But her daughter said: “Mum, what about asking Uncle Dump if he can lend us his pan?”. “Mmm, sounds good! Ok, go visit him to ask for it, I will start making the dough in the meanwhile!”. So the mother started preparing the ingredients, whereas the daughter left. She passed through the forest and arrived at a very small house, where Uncle Dump lived. He was quite an old and bizarre fellow, who knew some magic. “Dear Uncle, we want to make frittelle and we don’t have a pan, would you mind if we borrow yours?”, asked the nephew. “Of course not”, replied the uncle, “but I want to get some frittelle as well, to celebrate Carnival too”. “Sure thing! I will bring you a good amount! Thank you!”. She took the pan and came back home. Mother and daughter started kneading the dough, put the pan on the stove with some oil and one by one put a spoonful of dough inside to fry. Ah, such a delicious scent could be smelled in the kitchen! They filled two entire bowls with frittelle. The mother said: “We are done! Put some frittelle in a napkin and bring them to Uncle Dump, together with the pan!”. The girl left, but while walking she couldn’t avoid trying one of the sweets. “Oh! It’s so delicious! I will try just another one”, but one by one, she finished all of them, and when she arrived at the uncle’s house the napkin was completely empty! The girl was desperate, but she came up with an idea: she saw a donkey and asked him: “Could you please poop a little bit? I ate all the frittelle and I need something that could substitute them!”. The gentle donkey pleased her, so the girl filled the napkin with the donkey’s poo and brought it to her uncle. She entered the house and said: “Dear uncle, here is the pan that you lent us, together with the frittelle! I must leave now, as I have tons of things to do at home!”, and ran away. When Uncle Dump reached the napkins, realised the joke immediately, and got extremely angry: “Ah, that’s what you did to me! Well, I will find you and eat not just the frittelle, but even you, just in one bite!”. So, he exited home and started making for his nephew’s house. The girl had already arrived home and told her mother what happened, so the woman elaborated a plan to protect her daughter. She locked all the doors and windows, filled the girl’s pillowcase with needles and nails and told her daughter to hide next to her feet, at at the bottom of the bed. Not long after, Uncle Dump arrived and tried entering from the doors, but he couldn’t. He tried from the windows, but he couldn’t. In the end, since he was able to do some magic, he entered from the hole in the sink, and started climbing the stairs, heading towards the girl’s bedroom. “I am going to eat you!”, he said. Then, he opened his mouth wide and bit the pillow. Ah! How painful it was for him to feel all the pointed needles and the nails in his mouth! He started screaming and ran away, so that the girl was safe and could enjoy the rest of the sweets with her wise mother. 

[Original version: ANDREA ZANZOTTO, La storia dello zio Tonto o del barba Zhucon, Corraini Edizioni, Mantova, 2011].

Tags: uncle; frittelle; Carnival; girl; pan.

Question: Why did Uncle Dump want to eat the girl?

  1. Because she didn’t bring the pan back
  2. Because she didn’t give him any frittella
  3. Because he was very hungry

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