Embracing Britishness: musings on biscuit lettering culture

It all began two or three years after I moved to the UK when I realised that I was living here in contradiction to my host country and not in harmony with it: (my) life was a cultural fight. It was frustrating. At some point, I decided to change the paradigm, embrace Britishness, stop fighting it and learn the culture of the country where I happily live. That journey of learning and embracing the Britishness included, unavoidably, British biscuits.

British biscuits

My first biscuits study, in the form of an Instagram hashtag: the Fig Roll, the Shortcake, the Garibaldi, the Duchy?, the Finger Cream, the Redcurrant Puffs, the Rich Tea Finger, the ‘fake’ Bourbon — Bourbons are never square!


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“Tu castigo será verme feliz” — Talking with Carga Máxima

An interview with Azucena del Carmen Cabezas León from the Carga Máxima studio at ATypI São Paulo, October 2015

cargamaxima-12

We interviewed Azucena León during the ATypI conference in São Paulo in October 2015, when the Alphabettes blog was barely in its first weeks of life. Azucena and her partner, Alinder Espada, had a stall in the conference market place, where she was composing and selling lettering posters. What immediately caught our attention was the bold, fluorescent and immediate hand lettering, with strong messages distilled from the Peruvian version of Cumbia, the popular music of Colombia. The messages combined references to music, ‘la novela’ (soap opera), but mostly, a sense of pure drama: tu castigo será verme feliz [your punishment will be seeing me happy], el buen amante nunca se enamora [the good lover never falls in love], no se gana pero se goza [you can’t win, but enjoy it anyway], está prohibido estar triste [sadness is not allowed], se sufre pero se aprende [you suffer but you learn] and so on. It was not easy to find a free slot during her busy day, as every ATypI attendee wanted one of her posters. Continue reading

Elena Loves Pigeons

Declaring my love for pigeons is not an easy task. It was not easy to accept it in the first place. But one day I looked back I realised that my friends were right, I have a thing for pigeons. And this thing has a name: Peristerophilia. (With the exception of labeorphilia – love of beer bottle labels, I believe this loveletter-philia to be unique in having a name, whether that is something good or not, well, I really can’t say).

Was this love for pigeons triggered by my grandfather’s love for pigeon keeping? Back in the 60s my grandfather, Bibiano, used to breed pigeons in the attic and participate in competitions that consisted in, basically, many good looking male pigeons (at least if you are a female-pigeon) trying to conquer the female pigeon in dispute, and of course, bring her back. Cachorro, my grandfather’s palomo, was a winner, irresistible for all pigeon-ladies and Bibiano’s reason to be proud.

In my mother’s family archive, an old box full of old pictures, ephemera and other artefacts, there is still a copy of Bibiano’s membership card of the Spanish federation of pigeon keeping (Federación Española de Colombicultura).*

Bibiano

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