A new deli has been put in to this site with links to the other end of the market at Masters Fruit and Vegetables and the results are grand.
Every week new products emerge and a balance has been restored to the site. I dont know what has happened to Kamal but there seems to be a new breeze blowing through the market and optimism is high. Great to see and use.
This is Kamal Chamie, he is the owner of the Pelekan Deli at the Footscray Market in Hopkins St. His is the last European delicatessen at this wonderful market. But after more than 20 years he is being evicted at the end of the month.
For those of you unfamiliar with this market it’s at the centre of a very diverse neighbourhood where the careful and skilled shopper can find real gems from many different cultural groups. But the market itself is rapidly losing its diversity and Kamal’s deli is one of the the last links to Europe. It is also the only place leftwhere you can get a decent coffee. But storm crowds are brewing. The new manager is evicting Kamal for supposedly not staying open till 8pm on a Friday evening. He has Church [his words] related obligations on a Friday evening and packs away the goods on display outside the deli but continues to service the counter from the coffee/nut/dried fruits shop he has [This Coffee and Nut shop I have just found out does not belong to Kamal but a friend] opposite to comply with his tenancy conditions. This is not enough for the market management and as such they are evicting him at the end of the month. Most traders that I spoke to also thought that 8pm was unrealistic for many traders. On Saturday a regular customer was so upset that Kamal was being evicted that she started to compile a petition of support. After collecting over 200 signatures the management with the help of CCTV cameras spotted her and marched her out under some duress. As I continued my shopping on Thursday the picture became more disturbing. Many stallholders are too frightened to speak up and the best fish shop is thinking about moving. You may think this is small potatoes but to the people of Footscray and beyond this market is like a village square with a United Nations of food lovers interacting on the most basic and dare I say spiritual level that is the love of good tucker . The conversations I have each week with stallholders and other shoppers inspire me strongly. I have been coming to this market for over 20 years and have seen the ups and downs. The seedy druggy side has been tempered but there are telltale signs of another decline, this time into a false sense that Footscray Market is just Asian. Mono cultural enclaves are emerging outside as well so interaction between different cultural groups is declining. I hope the new manager can see that diversity is the key to keeping this wonderful market’s success. And where am I going to get freshly ground poppyseeds?