Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Paprika and Packaging

I'm a sucker for packaging. There, I've admitted it. As much as I try to minimise the amount of packaging I buy; reusing containers, buying in bulk and generally avoiding processed foods, I really do love well designed packaging. This brand of sweet paprika really has it going on. I'm sure that this is the same tin that they've been using since the 1970s, which really says something about style.

Sometimes, with a camera, there is the chance to step back a little, later, and think about what happens, out there in the world, with so many images and signs clamouring for attention. I walk into the Spanish deli (johnson st, fitzroy) and smell that particular smell of olives, drying chilli, Spanish laundry powder and that subtle, smoky vanilla uncertainty that makes their custard tarts so good. Then, stacked right at eye height, are these tins of paprika. I want some. Is this art? did it sneak up on me? If it is not art, then is it ok to read it as art? what are they trying to tell me?

There are multiple layers of reading here... some subconscious, some fueled by desires and cultural fashions, others subtle and hard to untangle. I'll try.

The multiple stack of foreign product = delicatessen.
The clear label DULCE- no need for a translation here, the customer is no fool. Dulce kind of sounds like Dolce, Italian for sweet, so lets ask not questions, just presume that it means something lovely. The couple-los novios; just having them so happy in the kitchen cupboard will surely enrich your life with similar joyful moments of kitsch pleasure. Think Astrid Gilberto nonchalance as you gather your food for paella, the smoky flesh coloured dress will surely spice up your dinner, and deliver up a song from the man, that man leading you forward, out and away into happiness. Surely even the presence of such a tin could shine a fashionable, retro kind of light from the corner of your kitchen, I mean, you just don't see that kind of spice at the supermarket.

And then I walk around the corner, and find these little packs, and I reel with a sense of confusion. Did I really even need some paprika? Is this the same stuff? without the promises and the complicated meanings? surely it can't be as good.

Is that it? Perhaps these poor tins of paprika doesn't require such analysis. Either way, I am kind of glad to enjoy seeing the tins, but have not yet succumbed to the promises they make by buying one. I don't think I could bare the dissapointment, if it failed to deliver.


flo said...

Dear anotherweather
I was a tad disappointed that you didnt succumb to the tin of dolce paprika. Surely a plastic bag wont be of much appeal in 20 years? Maybe common sense has prevailed over impulse but dont feel it always must!!!
I love geraniums

fitzroyalty said...

A trip to Casa Iberica is always a pleasure :-)