Bourrique was pronounced boo-ri-kay when referring to a man and boo-rik for a female.
What the grandparents were talking about was the stubbornness of the person. They believed that the most stubborn animal on the farm was the donkey. Quite naturally when one was being disagreeable, did not listen to the other’s advice, or change their way of doing things, they were called stubborn as a donkey.
I have always wondered why Cajuns called the donkey bourrique as opposed to the French âne. The answer can probably be traced to the Spanish influence on the Cajun language. We have all seen western movies where donkeys were used to carry large loads of supplies and gold. The donkeys in the movie were called burros, the Spanish name for donkey. When the animals were introduced in Louisiana by the Spaniards they were called burros and eventually bourrique.
Although there was no gold to be found in Acadiana, there was much need for the bourrique on the farm. One of the main reasons was to crossbreed with mares to produce mules. Mules, as well as oxen, were used to clear land of trees so fields could be plowed. Mules and donkeys were referred to as beasts of burden.
Many farmers still keep donkeys on the farm although most of the heavy farm work is now done by mechanical means. Some of the reasons for keeping donkeys are their ability to ward off wild predators from attacking domesticated stock. They are very useful as companions for horses and to guard sheep.
Donkeys are also commonly kept as pets. Once tamed the animals are very gentile and provide a nice ride for children.
In some countries cooked donkey meat is a featured dish. Donkey milk is also consumed and used in the preparation of some meals and for making cheese. The Phoenicians used donkey skin in the making of parchment. Some of these hand printed documents have helped preserve the history of the early peoples of the Middle East.
Donkeys have an infamous reputation for stubbornness and being stupid. Contrary to popular belief they are considered very intelligent by people who have owned them for many years. The animals are very cautious and it is difficult to frighten a donkey into doing anything dangerous.
Grandma may have been correct to call our hardworking, smart, brave, dependable, but at times stubborn grandpa a bourrique.
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