And never, ever, photograph the bread

Our flight got us to the airport at Geneva around noon. My son-in-law has a proven strategy for overcoming the effects of jet lag and so, upon arrival, we had something to eat and a brief nap. When we awoke there was plenty of time for a stroll through the streets of Lausanne. When we stopped in at a shop to pick up some bread I was immediately struck by the beauty and variety of the freshly baked loaves that were on display. I instinctively reached for my camera and crouched for a better angle. As I brought the finder to my eye I became aware of someone very close behind me. The person was speaking quickly and in french, so I did not understand. I turned and there was something in the way the gentleman was gesticulating, the intensity of his wagging finger, and his “tsk-tsk” (spoken in that universal language which we all understand), that told me taking photographs of the bread was, for some reason, strictly forbidden. I was embarrassed and apologized to my daughter and son-in-law. How was I to know that Swiss bread was sacrosanct? As an expat, my daughter assured me that there was nothing to apologize for and explained that the Swiss love their rules and regulations and much of the populace will be quick to let you know, very politely, when and if you should stray. Without breaking any additional rules we did manage to purchase a few loaves of bread and some cheese for dinner. As we walked back to the apartment, and as I looked up, I saw number of delightful holiday ornaments made of what I would call chicken wire. Having worked with the stuff myself on the farm I cannot imagine how the artists who created these evocative pieces molded the wire into accurate representations of human form. Having set them up and against the sky suggested that these holiday Angels could well be flying through the air and across the city. I had never seen anything like them before.

20 thoughts on “And never, ever, photograph the bread

  1. My goodness! When I first saw this photo, without context, I couldn’t imagine how the image and the title fit together. Now, I understand. And I must say, I’ve never seen anything like this, either. All we get are pairs of tennis shoes tied together and slung over wires. I like the chicken-wire forms, very much. Perhaps the wire was cheap, and available. The artistic impulse will not be denied!

    • These made quite an impression on me Linda. I can remember turning a corner as we walked through the open-air market, and seeing them. I was so taken that Joanna, and the rest of the group we were with, disappeared into the distance. My face was so tightly glued to the viewfinder that I had no idea I had been abandoned!

  2. Haha, you describe the finger-wagging grocery man perfectly! I disliked Swiss bread at first because you have to slice it yourself and it goes stale so quickly … within a day or two, as opposed to the pre-sliced US loaves that you can keep around for a week or more. But it’s definitely something I’ve acclimated to … having to buy and cut Swiss bread more frequently is definitely worthwhile for the deliciousness of it. I do miss a nice, perfectly square sandwich sometimes, though πŸ™‚

  3. I have not seen them either. They’re quite interesting. The human mind is such an amazing thing. I, for one, would never have come up with such an interesting idea. As for the bread – too bad, but I bet the real beauty was in the eating πŸ˜‰ Mmmmbread (and, of course, fresh butter) and cheese.

    • Bread and cheese are, of course, staples of the Swiss diet. The balance is pretty rich (Fondue, Beef Wellington, RΓΆsti w/egg, and Lasagna on four successive nights). Delicious beyond description. I don’t know how the Swiss stay so healthy and so thin on such stuff! Must be all those steep inclines, clean air, and lots and lots of wine!

      • I’d say you’ve thought it through. Just out through the back window of my place on Southern Harbour I can see, about 5 miles out on the bay, two Islands. They’re named Bread and Cheese ☺

  4. Intriguing ornaments and photos! I laud everybody who has Christmas decoration that does not need electrical power! πŸ™‚ As for the bread and taking photos, I cannot explain it either but perhaps you have been a victim of the global selfie/smartphone photo mania … documenting your life the Google Glass way? Maybe some people might have gotten less tolerant as ‘everybody seems to take photos of everything all the time’ (their own food in particular). Or they figured you are a spy from a competing shop? πŸ˜‰ I should really try this in an Austrian bakery!

    • Several others who have commented seem to be in agreement with you Elke … in that they felt that perhaps those working at the store didn’t want the nature of the beautiful presentation subject to copying. They didn’t want the competition to know what they were up to. I suppose I can understand … but it would have been nice for the gentleman to tell me that’s why I was thwarted.

      • I might be too extreme in that respect – people here also like their powered ornaments … a lot πŸ™‚ I admit, this is one of several pet peeves of mine … which I think of when there is gloomy news about the euro zone’s financial crisis etc. I figure as long as people spend money and time on things like electric Christmas decorations, those huge refrigerators with a ice cube dispenser, their IR mini sauna in the cellar, a car that’s bigger than would be required to meet daily needs, several TV sets …. then we don’t have any real problems so far. But according to the common mantra put forth by politicians, consumers should keep spending to ‘fuel the economy’ so all is well – but I find all this very weird.

        • Several years ago Ed Begley Jr, the American actor and environmentalist did a reality TV program on green living; he wouldn’t permit electrical Christmas lights at his house and his wife rebelled against this, representing the view that it just isn’t Christmas without them. So Ed brought solar powered garden lights to decorate their property, representing a compromise. It was a tasteful display… not like the insanity of this: .

          • We have a few battery-powered candle lights that we ‘twist’ on for the holiday evenings … I suppose we could go to real candles, but then we would worry about the fire hazard. Joanna and I are always aghast at some of the displays in our area.

  5. Some people are just funny about photographs! I thought you might have captured the breads you bought to show us … but perhaps they were quickly gobbled up … and the photos which you’ve posted are very surreal indeed!

  6. The prohibition on photographing in stores exists in the United States too. I think store owners are worried that competitors might want to copy the “look and feel” of the place. With regard to the Swiss breads, you could always buy a few loaves, take them away, and set them up to be photographed somewhere else β€” maybe even suspended in incongruous locations.

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