Tradition

A new tradition seems to have taken root in the fertile ground of Wellington’s café culture — an increasing number of cafés have blackboard signs adorned with quotes and proverbs. (Maybe it has some connection with the phenomenal popularity of “quote sites” on the Internet.)

tradition (15 Feb 2011)

tradition (15 Feb 2011)

A couple of days ago, this blackboard appealed strongly enough to interrupt me as I hurried along Dixon Street. It was only later that I began to analyse the factors that had contributed to enrich my experience of that simple sign.

Years ago, the Dixon St. Deli was where I went to buy matzos so I could make a chocolate Passover cake (a miracle of eggs, matzah meal, ground almonds, dark chocolate and orange juice) to serve at Easter alongside a fruit- and marzipan-filled simnel cake (an old English tradition). 

The characteristics of the text and its background reminded me strongly of the paintings of Colin McCahon, who is regarded as “the outstanding figure in New Zealand visual art of the twentieth century … a great painter and a profound thinker.” (These words are quoted in material about McCahon on the website of Te Papa Tongarewa / Museum of New Zealand. And there are good images, there, of some of his paintings.)

Dixon St. Deli, now in it’s third generation, has been supplying Wellington with gourmet delights since 1930. And it’s been integral to my experience of the Wellington scene throughout my life.

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3 thoughts on “Tradition

  1. Promoting silence in a deli (or café) would strike me as odd. Shouldn’t there be lively chatter? But maybe that’S cultural and I don’t understand it. I enjoy your observation anyways.

    • Not for one moment was I intending to suggest that the Dixon St. Deli was “promoting silence”. The crucial words in the proverb are “in its time” — which, to my mind, added a layer to the word “tradition”.

      The café (not Dixon St. Deli but a French-style boulangerie) at which I was a lunch guest today was notable for (among other things) its “lively chatter” — which by the end of our lunch had risen to such a level that I suggested to my friend that we continue our conversation elsewhere.

      By the way, I saw no blackboard and took no photos.

      • This was my personal, slightly tongue-in-cheek and not quite accurate interpretation. I think I see your point (which I might have missed before…).

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