Wednesday, 19 December 2007

A whole world on your plate - # 327

This market stall crammed with exotic and out of season fruit made me think of Joseph Conrad...a remarkable author, famous for "The Heart of Darkness" etc.

At the turn of the 19th/20th C he wrote "The Secret Agent" about anarchists, subversion and bomb making in London. If I remember correctly, he has a scene where a man walks down a London street and the "brilliant gas lamps" pick out the fruit stalls and the exotic fruits displayed. (It could have been written for a film scene, although cinema did not exist).

Reading around, I also discovered that already in the late 19th C the coming of railways ensured that early season fruits could be brought from Uzbekistan into Western Europe, and a lively trade developed long before 1914.

So.....not much has changed in 130 years. Britain is still struggling in Afghanistan, Iraq, and on the edges of "Empire", while at home, London is still the somewhat seedy but magnificent melting pot we all know even today. Shadowy figures play cat and mouse with the police and produce bombs in suburban hide-outs, cook up wicked plots without even giving a hint to their innocent wives, and send innocent children to their death as bomb carriers. At the same time, our market stalls are bursting with exotica from the ends of the earth, transported by the marvels of technology to be "on our table, picked fresh from the vine only a day ago".

9 comments:

  1. Oh yes the good ole English food market. Though these days many of the products are from around the world!

    ReplyDelete
  2. So I think it's not too cold at your place because the exotic fruit don't like it. Me, I'm against too many fruit and flowers from other countries because of environmental reasons. They come by plane (fresh strawberries in winter, e.g.) and I don't need them out of season. I make an exception with bananas ;-))

    ReplyDelete
  3. So much food, but so little from the UK. Apparently so many varieties of apples are lost now, as the actual choice available is limited & many orchards have become housing estates or roads.

    Photos from Geneva are now being served.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I sooo miss this at this time of the year - we may have the weather and beaches but you guys have THE FOOD!! ENJOY!! Have some for moi!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting thoughts and observations. We have a conditioned, telescopic and stereotyped view of the past that conveniently overlooks some of these things. I wonder if anyone has written a good historical novel of the Victorian era using this kind of research - in the same way that Patrick O'Brien has done for the naval scene.

    Conrad wrote in B+W of course.

    Zurich Daily Photo

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nice photo. I love fruit markets too, especially if they have really exotic stuff.

    Did you get anything there?

    ReplyDelete
  7. ....and thanks to all for your "fruitage" that adds to my commentary. But, Ming....you seem to be out on a limb. In Europe there's a hint of (puritanical?) objection to transporting exotica. I wonder if it will last?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Today I was at the supermarket's and I remarked they has a lot of exotic fruit there, more than usual (Christmas is coming). There were some where I didn't even know the name ;-)

    ReplyDelete