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Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Change direction.

Here I sit, wondering how the blast I'll be able to pack all my outfits into the carry-on-sized case I like to travel with. I enjoy travelling light now that I've had my epiphany. Four years ago, I got caught between Adelaide and Melbourne lugging a 47 pound whale of a case, on the very first leg of my Change quest. I quickly realised that it's much easier if you only take what you need.

As usual, I digress.

I'm reading the Penguin 70, a lovely collection of short books published by Penguin on their 70th birthday. As I lay in my cosy bed yesterday morning, I swallowed whole Of Pageants and Picnics by Elizabeth David, "perhaps the most influential postwar cookery writer in Britain." It's a divine collection of stories and recipes celebrating eating outside, shopping at markets, and, incidentally, how to make three dishes out of one rabbit.

One turn of phrase in particular piqued my interest:
The display seem rather tame after the wholesale market, and there is not a melon to be seen. It is too early in the season and they are too expensive for the housewives of Cavaillon. Five thousand francs a kilo they were fetching today, and a week later in London shops 12s. 6d. each for the little tiny ones. But the street opposite the painted colonnades leads into the square where more and more food stalls are opening and the housewives are already busy marketing. Here you can buy everything for a picnic lunch. Beautiful sprawling ripe tomatoes, a Banon cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves, Arles sausages, pâté, black olives, butter cut from a towering monolith, apricots, cherries.

Wha? The buyer does the marketing?

In my few years working, I don't know that I've ever seen the word used this way - such an active action word, where the customer is the one who markets, who wanders by, chatting to producers, smelling the flowers, touching the apricots. Rather, it has only ever been that the customer is marketed to.

That's an interesting perspective to consider when you're trying to work out who your customers are, and why they might like to use your service (or eat your apricot).

Naturally, not every apricot is equal and Ms. David goes on to describe the loveliness of the market purveyors capability for display:

How has a Montpellier fish-wife so mastered the art of composition that with her basket of fish for the bouillabaisse she is presenting a picture of such splendour that instead of going to look at the famous collection of paintings in the Musée Fabre you drive off as fast as possible to the coast to order a dish cooked with such fish?

I want need to go to France, and meet Elizabeth David. I suppose she'll have to be one of the dead people I invite over for that fantastic dinner with Jesus. And Gandhi. Or maybe Marilyn. Or Ann Boleyn, "the most happy."

Posted at 1:02 am

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