For months now I’ve been interested in the possibility of an idea of ‘simple urban contentment’, expressed in the same way as ‘simple country contentment’. The latter is a firmly established mythology, especially in urban areas: its signifiers are open fires, cider, ale, stew and bread. The former not so much – possible signifiers that have been suggested to me so far range from curry to sushi to takeaway coffee. But is there really no such thing as ‘simple’ happiness in the city? And is it not a little demeaning to assume that there is such a thing in the country?
Then I came across the Allestree-based company Urban Fresh Fruit. Now, these people seem to have a clear idea about what makes a food ‘urban’: this fruit may have been ‘picked from wherever the sun is shining’ but, decisively, it is then baked and sealed in a bag to make it ‘a lot more convenient’. It a removal from, and a romanticised yearning for, ‘Nature’. ‘Our awesome apples’, claim the Derbeians, ‘are from a beautiful and mountainous valley in south Africa only accessible via mountain passes that take your breath away’. The ‘Urban’, more’s the pity, is very rarely allowed to stand up for its own virtues.
by Luke Healey