On Mason Jars

In A Sense of Place, 10. Placemaking, Uncategorized by Alejandro Ribadeneira

My mom is a half French, half Ecuadorian chef who studied psychology. As far as I know, she loves many more things than the ones she is a cynic about—contrary to her skeptic French mother. Although, I believe we pick our battles, and she chose to hate mason jars out of context. Being a cook, she often ends up in restaurants; trying how other people cook and how other people facilitate pleasant eating experiences. To her, most things are considered small pleasures, grilled corn on the sidewalk is totally welcome, and a long meal with old wine as well. However, you might wonder, why a war against mason jars? I haven’t asked her, but I will try to explain my hypotheses.

Trends, like many other tendencies, take time to reach (and settle) in the global south. One of those being the “DIY” (Do It Yourself) looking, seemingly low-cost kind of cafe that also serves food—the type of space you would find in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The archetype of this cafe does come form an early time in the process of change a neighborhood undergoes in order to become ‘cool.’ Then, these type of businessess did appear. And, with them, also a use for those old mason jars, the furniture you found on the sidewalk, and the blender you mom gave you. These places could be seen as ‘authentic’, a controversial term. On the other hand, you might find the place that recreates these circumstances from the ground up. Although, it is obvious that you cannot force your mom to give you an old blender or use the old mason jars from your cabinet—because they never existed in your cabinet.

In my opinion, the inauthenticity is the factor that creates the dissonance in my mom’s mind. The confusion that leads to repulsion is initially triggered by an identifying—perhaps subconsciously—that the place you are at is a construction of something else. And that, of course, these jars are not made to be cups. But that is simply the symbol for a larger phenomenon. The creation of faux places like these cafes might not be deliberate—even from the people that design and construct these spaces. By that, I mean that a sense of place is shaped and acquired from the most minute details to the largest structural gestures.

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