Friday, November 10, 2006

Roscoff Johnny

London never ceases to surprise. On Saturday I found a farmers market hidden away in a car park behind Notting Hill Gate, with this Roscoff Johnny selling his onions. They even have an onion museum in Roscoff.

No, a Roscoff Johnny is not a strange French Prophylactic. It is an onion seller, with a tradition going back to 1828.

The Roscoff Johnnies did a lot to create the stereotype of a garlic-eating cycle-riding onion-carrying Frenchman to the English, Instantly recognisable even today. Visit some French Daily Photo blogs to find out what they are really like.

posted by Ham at 00:39 -- Comments here: 8

Comments on "Roscoff Johnny"


Blogger Kate said ... (03:27) : 

Fascinating! Never knew anything about this marketing technique. Thanks for the link for the information. The young man looks happy and the photo is very traditional, as described in the article. Cool shot!


Blogger Lisi said ... (05:49) : 

very interesting and he looks pretty stylish.


Blogger Andreea said ... (10:05) : 

this is so cool. i had no idea. love the shot and explanation thereof


Blogger Pierre said ... (17:55) : 

Excellent portrait! It was a traditional activity in the 18th and 19th centuries, for french garlic producers to sell their produce across the Channel. I've been told that they would shout "Marchand d'ail", a war cry that finally crafted the word "Chandail" which is the french for "Sweater"...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (05:15) : 

Yes Pierre, I remember this story too. Funny how the word chandail no longer is used though. It was common when I was a child but these days my kids say 'un pull', taken from the English word 'pull-over'. The interaction between languages is something that never ceases to fascinate me.
Good catch anyway, the portrait (and the activity) are great !


Blogger alice said ... (20:24) : 

Yes, Roscoff is famous for its market garden produce (potatoes, cabbages, artichokes and onions) and it's a very nice place in the north of Brittany. Thank you for the link and have a nice Sunday.


Blogger Matthieu said ... (22:19) : 

Dear Ham, you behave like a teacher to me. Thank you for letting me know about Roscoff Johnny and greetings from the French city of Cherbourg.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:33) : 

Hello , My name is emmanuel and i am the johnny from the foto.

It is a very great foto.
Sorry but This winter 2009, I was not very often in notting hill.

See you in september 2009
Or see you in Roscoff this summer.


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Name: Ham Location: London, United Kingdom View my complete profile