Monday, 16 April 2012

Kalulas Brothers (Perth, WA)

183 William St
Northbridge Western Australia 6003
(08) 9328 5285

    Mon-Thu, Sat 9:00 - 17:00
    Fri 9:00 - 21:00
    Sun 11:00 - 17:00

Kakulas Brothers on Urbanspoon

This is a quintessential part of William St, one of those business without which you can't even think about the street being William St. It is like a real old-style continental shop in Mediterranean Europe or a mini-suq in the Middle East. This sort of shop has been in process of extinction in Europe at the same rate that their old cranky owners have been passing away.

The shop will awaken your senses with its mix of colours, smells and textures, with its old cracked wooden floors, wonderful dark shelves, their cashier counter, their scales, and that mix of harmony, chaos and intimacy that the Kakulas shop has. The shop attendants are usually European backpackers working there, very nice and efficient, always smiling and courteous.

This is a shop to find some spices, beans, herbs and staples that are rarely found in the supermarket and that are basic to cook certain national dishes, the sort of ingredients that some foreigners would use to cook their authentic national recipes at home. They also cater for packed products and brands that people from other cultures identify as theirs, that is, that are part of their culinary culture - identifiers of what they are and what they miss from home. Some of those products can be found in your normal supermarket now, but Kakulas were the first to cater for them.

The old cranky owner is no longer out there at the counter, and many things have changed in the last five or six years, I guess, to make the business more profitable. However, something has been lost in the way. Just two examples.

1/ The selection of olive oil brands has decreased in the last years, and those wonderful real non-mass produced really-tasty and authentic oil oils, those whose taste is real to a Mediterranean, have been replaced by mediocre brands that are, indeed, part of food multinationals and, therefore, can be found in your normal supermarket or continental store.

2/ The same sort of policy brought us the little charming coffee-to-go corner they have opened to the street. The only problem is that the coffee is a watery concoction of OK coffee - as good as the plunger coffee you could prepare yourself at your place for free using good quality ground coffee.

To me, being progressive in the food industry in the 21st century means being authentic and traditional, looking back and seeing what worked in the past food markets and shops and mix it with new "marketing" approaches and policies to adapt it to the needs of our modern society. If this makes any sense to you. It does makes sense to me, though. Cashing in on anything you can replacing good products with others that are managed by food multinationals is not the right way to go,though.

Kakulas is a wonderful place, with lots of authentic products, great service and a great old-fashioned atmosphere. Enjoy their natural charm while it lasts, as we will soon have it tinned and mass produced so we can sniff it and pass out. 


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