Episodes

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01Romans Buy Into An Identity - While They Can. - The Essay2016061320180521 (R3)

Joanna Robertson argues that when Romans go shopping they buy into a local identity.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

When Romans shop for traditional foods and delicacies in local family-run businesses, they also buy into a local identity - that's now under threat.

Italy was only unified in the nineteenth century, and local roots and identities often go deeper than national ones. One way that Romans express and nourish this local identity is by shopping in traditional family-run businesses that take pride in their products.
The "forno" bakery on Campo de' Fiori has counted the Borgias and Rossini among its regulars. In the Trastevere area, Romans queue up for the pizzas and black cherry tarts of the Boccioni kosher bakery that dates back to the eighteenth century.
However, many traditional shops are selling up because the children head into professions rather than behind the counter, or because of cash offers from mysterious buyers that the owners can't refuse. Previously legitimate family businesses like bars and restaurants are being taken over by the mafia, who keep the names and decor, but put in their own staff, and use ingredients from mafia controlled farms.
Romans are deeply distressed by how unrecognisable their city has become, and the erosion of identity that this has brought.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

01Rome - The Essay2016061320180521 (R3)

Joanna Robertson argues that when Romans go shopping they buy into a local identity.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

When Romans shop for traditional foods and delicacies in local family-run businesses, they also buy into a local identity - that's now under threat.

Italy was only unified in the nineteenth century, and local roots and identities often go deeper than national ones. One way that Romans express and nourish this local identity is by shopping in traditional family-run businesses that take pride in their products.
The "forno" bakery on Campo de' Fiori has counted the Borgias and Rossini among its regulars. In the Trastevere area, Romans queue up for the pizzas and black cherry tarts of the Boccioni kosher bakery that dates back to the eighteenth century.
However, many traditional shops are selling up because the children head into professions rather than behind the counter, or because of cash offers from mysterious buyers that the owners can't refuse. Previously legitimate family businesses like bars and restaurants are being taken over by the mafia, who keep the names and decor, but put in their own staff, and use ingredients from mafia controlled farms.
Romans are deeply distressed by how unrecognisable their city has become, and the erosion of identity that this has brought.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

01The Shopping News: Rome - The Essay20160613
02Buying Intellectual Validation In New York2016061420180522 (R3)

Joanna Robertson on how book-shopping in New York can be about intellectual validation.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

Thus book-shopping in New York is also about intellectual validation - or, as Joanna found when shopping for books with the late Susan Sontag, about building intellectual bridges to Europe.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

02New York - The Essay2016061420180522 (R3)

Joanna Robertson on how book-shopping in New York can be about intellectual validation.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

Thus book-shopping in New York is also about intellectual validation - or, as Joanna found when shopping for books with the late Susan Sontag, about building intellectual bridges to Europe.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

02The Shopping News: New York - The Essay20160614
03Buying Toys, And A Free Childhood, In Berlin. - The Essay2016061520180523 (R3)

How shopping for toys in Berlin reveals an attitude to childhood that is unique to Germany

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

In this edition, she finds that shopping for toys in Berlin reveals an attitude to childhood and nature that's unique to Germany. Germany's concept of nature is deeply rooted in the concepts of nineteenth-century German Romanticism, which in turn is reflected in German toys, and childhood. The child is the Wanderer, journeying through the boundless realms of creativity and dreams, close to the beauty, teachings and wonders of Nature. It's a childhood of great freedom, and responsibility.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

04Buying Dreams Of Wealth In Tirana - The Essay2016061620180524 (R3)

Joanna Robertson on buying dreams of wealth in Tirana in the aftermath of communism.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

In Tirana, after the fall of Communism, people dream of buying luxuries and achieving the kind of wealth they've seen on Italian TV. They buy and sell what they can, and are inventive about ways to make money, particularly in the main square. Someone takes their bathroom scales and charges customers ten lek a go to weigh themselves. Whole families come and see it as a treat. But when virtually the entire nation tries to finance its dreams of wealth through pyramid schemes, the dreams turn into nightmares. In the town of Gramsh, virtually all that remains for sale - are guns.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

04Tirana - The Essay2016061620180524 (R3)

Joanna Robertson on buying dreams of wealth in Tirana in the aftermath of communism.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

In Tirana, after the fall of Communism, people dream of buying luxuries and achieving the kind of wealth they've seen on Italian TV. They buy and sell what they can, and are inventive about ways to make money, particularly in the main square. Someone takes their bathroom scales and charges customers ten lek a go to weigh themselves. Whole families come and see it as a treat. But when virtually the entire nation tries to finance its dreams of wealth through pyramid schemes, the dreams turn into nightmares. In the town of Gramsh, virtually all that remains for sale - are guns.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

05The Shopping News: Paris - The Essay2016061720180525 (R3)

How buying food in Paris is not just for the tastebuds, but also a serious part of culture

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

When Parisians shop for, or sell, traditional, locally produced high-quality food, it's not just because they revere it, but also because it's part of a deeply entrenched culture that dates back to the nineteenth century. Owners of specialist food shops like Madame Acabo and her to-die-for chocolates are the heirs of key individuals like the lawyer, politician and gastronome of genius, Brillat-Savarin (whose Physiology of Taste, published in 1825, has never been out of print), and the aristocrat Grimod de la ReyniÃre who wrote not only gastronomic almanacs and journals, but also reviews of the new phenomenon called "le restaurant" - one of which, a very successful one using only locally sourced ingredients, he set up himself.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

05The Shopping News: Paris - The Essay2016061720180525 (R3)

How buying food in Paris is not just for the tastebuds, but also a serious part of culture

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

When Parisians shop for, or sell, traditional, locally produced high-quality food, it's not just because they revere it, but also because it's part of a deeply entrenched culture that dates back to the nineteenth century. Owners of specialist food shops like Madame Acabo and her to-die-for chocolates are the heirs of key individuals like the lawyer, politician and gastronome of genius, Brillat-Savarin (whose Physiology of Taste, published in 1825, has never been out of print), and the aristocrat Grimod de la ReyniÃre who wrote not only gastronomic almanacs and journals, but also reviews of the new phenomenon called "le restaurant" - one of which, a very successful one using only locally sourced ingredients, he set up himself.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

01The Shopping News: Rome20160613

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

When Romans shop for traditional foods and delicacies in local family-run businesses, they also buy into a local identity - that's now under threat.

Italy was only unified in the nineteenth century, and local roots and identities often go deeper than national ones. One way that Romans express and nourish this local identity is by shopping in traditional family-run businesses that take pride in their products.

The "forno" bakery on Campo de' Fiori has counted the Borgias and Rossini among its regulars. In the Trastevere area, Romans queue up for the pizzas and black cherry tarts of the Boccioni kosher bakery that dates back to the eighteenth century.

However, many traditional shops are selling up because the children head into professions rather than behind the counter, or because of cash offers from mysterious buyers that the owners can't refuse. Previously legitimate family businesses like bars and restaurants are being taken over by the mafia, who keep the names and decor, but put in their own staff, and use ingredients from mafia controlled farms.

Romans are deeply distressed by how unrecognisable their city has become, and the erosion of identity that this has brought.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

When Romans shop for traditional foods and delicacies in local family-run businesses, they also buy into a local identity - that's now under threat.

Italy was only unified in the nineteenth century, and local roots and identities often go deeper than national ones. One way that Romans express and nourish this local identity is by shopping in traditional family-run businesses that take pride in their products.

The "forno" bakery on Campo de' Fiori has counted the Borgias and Rossini among its regulars. In the Trastevere area, Romans queue up for the pizzas and black cherry tarts of the Boccioni kosher bakery that dates back to the eighteenth century.

However, many traditional shops are selling up because the children head into professions rather than behind the counter, or because of cash offers from mysterious buyers that the owners can't refuse. Previously legitimate family businesses like bars and restaurants are being taken over by the mafia, who keep the names and decor, but put in their own staff, and use ingredients from mafia controlled farms.

Romans are deeply distressed by how unrecognisable their city has become, and the erosion of identity that this has brought.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

02The Shopping News: New York20160614

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

Thus book-shopping in New York is also about intellectual validation - or, as Joanna found when shopping for books with the late Susan Sontag, about building intellectual bridges to Europe.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

Thus book-shopping in New York is also about intellectual validation - or, as Joanna found when shopping for books with the late Susan Sontag, about building intellectual bridges to Europe.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

03The Shopping News: Berlin20160615

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

In this edition, she finds that shopping for toys in Berlin reveals an attitude to childhood and nature that's unique to Germany. Germany's concept of nature is deeply rooted in the concepts of nineteenth-century German Romanticism, which in turn is reflected in German toys, and childhood. The child is the Wanderer, journeying through the boundless realms of creativity and dreams, close to the beauty, teachings and wonders of Nature. It's a childhood of great freedom, and responsibility.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

In this edition, she finds that shopping for toys in Berlin reveals an attitude to childhood and nature that's unique to Germany. Germany's concept of nature is deeply rooted in the concepts of nineteenth-century German Romanticism, which in turn is reflected in German toys, and childhood. The child is the Wanderer, journeying through the boundless realms of creativity and dreams, close to the beauty, teachings and wonders of Nature. It's a childhood of great freedom, and responsibility.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

04The Shopping News: Tirana20160616

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

In Tirana, after the fall of Communism, people dream of buying luxuries and achieving the kind of wealth they've seen on Italian TV. They buy and sell what they can, and are inventive about ways to make money, particularly in the main square. Someone takes their bathroom scales and charges customers ten lek a go to weigh themselves. Whole families come and see it as a treat. But when virtually the entire nation tries to finance its dreams of wealth through pyramid schemes, the dreams turn into nightmares. In the town of Gramsh, virtually all that remains for sale - are guns.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

In Tirana, after the fall of Communism, people dream of buying luxuries and achieving the kind of wealth they've seen on Italian TV. They buy and sell what they can, and are inventive about ways to make money, particularly in the main square. Someone takes their bathroom scales and charges customers ten lek a go to weigh themselves. Whole families come and see it as a treat. But when virtually the entire nation tries to finance its dreams of wealth through pyramid schemes, the dreams turn into nightmares. In the town of Gramsh, virtually all that remains for sale - are guns.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

05The Shopping News: Paris20160617

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

When Parisians shop for, or sell, traditional, locally produced high-quality food, it's not just because they revere it, but also because it's part of a deeply entrenched culture that dates back to the nineteenth century. Owners of specialist food shops like Madame Acabo and her to-die-for chocolates are the heirs of key individuals like the lawyer, politician and gastronome of genius, Brillat-Savarin (whose Physiology of Taste, published in 1825, has never been out of print), and the aristocrat Grimod de la ReyniÃre who wrote not only gastronomic almanacs and journals, but also reviews of the new phenomenon called "le restaurant" - one of which, a very successful one using only locally sourced ingredients, he set up himself.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

Joanna Robertson is a journalist and mother who has lived in five foreign countries, where she has observed that local shopping habits tell you a lot about the place. In these Essays, she argues that when people go shopping, they don't just purchase goods, they also buy into something else. Joanna Robertson takes us shopping with the locals and explores these ulterior motives and what they reveal about the residents of five cities: Rome, New York, Berlin, Tirana and Joanna's current home, Paris.

When Parisians shop for, or sell, traditional, locally produced high-quality food, it's not just because they revere it, but also because it's part of a deeply entrenched culture that dates back to the nineteenth century. Owners of specialist food shops like Madame Acabo and her to-die-for chocolates are the heirs of key individuals like the lawyer, politician and gastronome of genius, Brillat-Savarin (whose Physiology of Taste, published in 1825, has never been out of print), and the aristocrat Grimod de la ReyniÃre who wrote not only gastronomic almanacs and journals, but also reviews of the new phenomenon called "le restaurant" - one of which, a very successful one using only locally sourced ingredients, he set up himself.

Producer: Arlene Gregorius.