Signs of good taste: How restaurants, cafes, markets and food shops grab our attention

John Brunton
Saturday 22 May 2010 00:00

Long before I even started thinking of writing about food, I was taking pictures around the world of the kaleidoscope of graphic signs and images that restaurants and markets use to make themselves stand out.

It all began when I went to live in Malaysia, where a friend advised me to start photographing local signs the moment they caught my eye, before the initial shock disappeared – hardly difficult when street-side stalls were enticing customers with signs for delicacies such as Frog Porridge or Sister Drunken Chicken Mee.

Since then I've snapped red hot chillies in Mexico, swirling Arabic script advertising Schweppes Tonic, a fabulous 1930s Italian typeface for the venerable Zucca aperitif and a fearsome fish outside one of Hong Kong's greatest seafood restaurants that probably actually scares away diners.

The Germans turn frankfurters into cartoon characters, the Belgians bring "frites" to life – and who could resist the temptation to pick an exotic-looking titbit from a street stall called The Fatman?

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