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Sunday, 9 October 2011

The icing on the cake!

  In the course of my research, I have discovered that the figure of the Breton onion seller is so deeply ingrained in the imagination of the British that it may take on the most diverse forms, from hero to villain, and that its representations may be fashioned from the most bewilderingly diverse materials. Alongside the countless ink-and-paper onion-festooned characters leaping from the pages of newspapers, magazines, novels, children's books, plays and poetry collections, I have found many canvas-and-paint Johnnies & one statufied bronze Jenny, as well as versions made of china, clay, knitwear, plastic, lead, cardboard, or plush . 
  But of all the avatars ever taken by the proteiform migrant, here is the sweetest I have come across yet:
  This carefully detailed royal icing cake topper was designed in the spring of 2010 by Carol, from Dublin (the fame of Johnny Onions having crossed the Irish sea!) as a birthday present for a friend who had moved from Ireland to France.
  Revealingly, Carol named her creation "French man" rather than Breton man. And as a matter of fact, her design benignly encapsulates almost all of the attributes thought to convey the notion of Frenchness in modern stereotyped representations of French people. Not only is the figurine wearing the mandatory beret, hooped jersey, red scarf & moustache of the "Titi parisien," but he is also equipped with the palette, paintbrush & easel of the French "artiste." And of course, his neck is decked with a plump garland of golden onions!
Which prompts one of the commentators on Carol's Flicker page to exclaim:
Many thanks to Carol for kindly letting me show her lovely creation.