Friday, February 27, 2015

A postcard from Footscray

I got the most lovely email the other day and felt it really encapsulated everything I love about Footscray.  I know I blog about the west, but reading through, I felt like I was seeing it with fresh eyes.  I couldn't wipe the smile off my face the whole email!  With the author's permission, I'd like to share it with you.  (I've added some links to the places either she or I refer to, and also some purty pics from my collection...)

Hi Lauren, Thanks so much for your reply...and don’t feel bad about the delay...  I can relate to that :-)
Thanks to your blog, I had the best day on Friday in the market and surrounds!  I drew myself a map and marked in all your suggestions, going first to the grocery market (your suggestion) across the road from the station...where I found the Red Boat fish sauce!  Sorry, can’t think of names and I’ve thrown out my bit of paper.
Pho from Hung Vuong Saigon, 128 Hopkins St, Footscray
As it was around midday when I arrived on the train from Geelong, I headed for the place you recommended for Pho (Huong Vien?)  Wow.  I had the beef & chicken one.  I’ll be back!
Then went looking for Mama Rosina’s, but couldn’t find it anywhere.  Never mind, found a little place selling grains and went in and asked them about Teff.  They told me I’d get it at Bharat Traders, 580 Barkly St.  As I was in Barkly St, I thought it can’t be too far.........!!!  Anyway, got my Teff...and found out I could get a bus back...thankfully! 
This was another lovely memorable part of my visit.  On the bus, I felt like I was a tourist in another country (not sure which one though...Vietnam, Nth Africa, India? :-) )  So many ladies offered me a seat beside them (taking pity on an elderly foreigner!)  I sat with a Vietnamese lady and struck up a conversation with her, then an Indian lady in the seat behind joined in, both offering to help with directions.  They were just lovely...  One of them even got off the bus with me and walked me in the direction of Mesnoy Bakery.
Meftuha from Mesnoy Injera Bakery "baking" injera at a festival in Footscray
So...I got my Injera!!  The two girls at Mesnoy were so friendly and helpful too.  When I showed them my Teff they rolled their eyes a bit and told me exactly what you said :-( * Never mind...think I’d already decided I wasn’t going to attempt it.  My son-in-law is going to though; he loves fermented stuff, so it won’t be wasted.
Anyway, I’ll try and shorten my story. I had a great time stocking up...well, as much as I could.  My fingers were nearly cut in half from the weight of my two shopping bags...and I had to get back to Southern Cross to catch the 6.30 train back to Swan Hill...finally home about midnight.  Put all but two pieces of Injera straight into dehydrator overnight.  Next morning, beautiful crisp Injera chips, which I’ve put in cello bags & sealed.
Misir wat (red lentils) at front left - I can't remember where I ate this but I wish I could!
For lunch on Saturday we had Injera (freshened in microwave), with the red lentil recipe that I found on Mesnoy’s website.  Yum!  But it was even better cold as a dip that night with Injera chips!!  Then on toast for breakfast yesterday morning!!  The recipe made heaps.  Half of it is in tubs in the freezer ready to have dip & chips again!! 
Can’t wait to go back...and take my husband.  Very doable from Swan Hill.  SH train passes through and stops at Footscray at about 10.30 am, then can pick it up again at about 6.45 pm without even having to go into the city!  What a day we’d have...BUT first stop next time will be to buy a shopping jeep...or two!! 
As you can probably tell...I’m still on a high! 
So...a big thank you again for introducing me to the culturally diverse culinary delights of Footscray! 

Thank you so much to Ros from Swan Hill for allowing me to share her delightful email.  She has really touched on everything that makes Footscray amazing.

* What I said re the teff was:  In terms of teff flour - it's not legal for export, so you cannot buy it.  The only exception is Bob's Red Mill which is an American company that produces teff flour (among others - coconut, amaranth etc).  It's available at health food shops and at Sims supermarket in West Footscray.  The catch is that that teff is apparently a poor grade so it's not very nice.  The Ethiopian community here in Melbourne don't use teff - they use combinations of corn, wheat, rice and sorghum flours to approximate the taste.


  1. What a beautiful story Lauren. I'm intrigued as to how Ros found your blog.
    And thank you to Ros for the hint about the dehydrator-it's for more than just scrummy dried nectarines from our tree!

    1. Hi Jo, thanks for leaving a comment - I know Ros will be chuffed when she reads this!

      In an earlier email she said that "in my google search for Red Boat fish sauce & Teff flour... I stumbled across your blog ! Love it ! In fact wasted (sorry, I shouldn’t say wasted...was “entertained for”) half my morning !!"

  2. What a wonderful adventure! It's easy to take for granted sometimes.

    1. It really is, isn't it Sian? My old neighbours had their cousin from England staying for a few weeks. One day I remember him saying to me very clearly, "You are so lucky to live here. I hope you realise how wonderful it is". Of course I said oh yes yes I do - but I think I do take it all for granted a lot of the time!

  3. Reminds me how rarely I get into Footscray, but oh how I should get there more often. Thank you for sharing.

  4. great ! Agree ! be as a tourist in your own city ...explore the unknown

    1. It is quite amazing what you can find once you step off the hamster wheel of your own part of town!


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