Having lived in London, Sydney, Canberra and now Melbourne since leaving home, not to mention frequent travels throughout Europe at the ages of 18/19, I think of myself as being somewhat worldly. And yet, I know can still be very naive.
This was further reinforced on Saturday, which, funnily enough was Australia Day. Us Australians like to think of ourselves as multicultural but sometimes we rarely scratch the surface. Perhaps we are paracultural instead (yes, I think I just made that up, I mean many cultures running parallel). I am not a racist person but I really can be quite ignorant, perhaps as a result of growing up in the country, far from the multiculturalism of Sydney and Melbourne.
S-bo has recently moved in with me and we needed a vacuum cleaner. We also needed groceries for an Australia Day BBQ. Searching the location of Godfreys (an Australian vacuum cleaner shop) we saw that there is a Godfreys situated quite close to Footscray market. I know little of Melbourne's suburbs (in that sense I may be worldly but I'm not victorian-ly) but I did know that Footscray was, in a sense, similar to Sydney's Cabramatta. So I prepared myself for an exciting trip to Melbourne's pocket of South East Asia. I had visions of exotic fruit and vegetables with stallholders eager to explain the best ways to cook them. My naivety comes through here. I was expecting a market selling ethnic goods for the westerner. Instead I found a market catering to it's market: Australians of many different backgrounds, mostly ethnic. Perhaps some would not publicly admit to being so narrow minded, but I think if you're prepared to air your views on the internet then you should be honest.
I'd like to think that if I wasn't in a hurry I would have taken my time to explore the goods on offer and patiently caught the attention of the stallholder to ask questions. Instead I was looking for the familiar in unfamiliar territory and I wanted it quickly. What on earth is in Chinese Sausages? I just want skinny beef snags for the BBQ. Who in their right mind would buy those fish heads in the first place, Let alone sitting out in the open like that? And can people puh-lease stop pushing and shoving. All of this surrounded by people speaking different languages. Not one language, but many different languages. I'm sure this combines to make Footscray Markets great markets indeed, but at the end of the day, I admit I was out of my comfort zone and I panicked. I'm sure it's like any other market...don't make your first visit when you're in a hurry. I got fed up with South Melbourne market first time because I didn't know which places were "good" and felt I had to know exactly what I wanted before stepping up to the frantic deli counter. I'll know next time, thanks to the Foodies Guide to Melbourne, that T.H. Butcher has one of the broadest ranges, whilst Pelekand Deli could have sorted me out with Goat's curd. I'll be sure to not waste my next trip there and allow myself plenty of time.