By Mike D'Onofrio, Patch.com
Among the newly bricked sidewalks on Valley Road off of Northfield Avenue sits the latest business in downtown West Orange: Esey International Market.
The market, located at 325 Valley Road, specializes in hard to find Ethiopian groceries and opened in May. The owner of this east African mart is Awet Zersenai, who was working there this past Monday, June 25, with her cousin Shewita Meles.
“I think this is the best location,” said Meles, “because there are so many Ethiopian and Eritreans in this community. There is an Ethiopian church and a lot of Ethiopian owned businesses.”
If you have ever eaten at the Montclair Ethiopian restaurant Mesob, you will notice many similar items in the store from the menu -- especially because it is under the same management.
One of the staples of Ethiopian cuisine found on the shelves of Esey is the unique, spongy flat-bread injera, which is used as both a plate and utensils in the culture. And while Meles said fresh injera is baked daily, those looking for something truly one of a kind can also get injera made and shipped from Ethiopia.
“People just love it,” said Meles. “They want to taste the stuff from back home.”
Meles mentioned that other rare items are also stocked, such as the spice berbere; Ethiopian coffees and teas; and dabo kolo, a traditional snack made of crunchy shortbread.
Overall, Meles said the first month has been a busy one, with people coming in and out as the word spreads about it.
“It is picking up,” said Meles. “People in the neighborhood are coming in and seeing what we are about if they have never heard of the cuisine and the culture, and also people from the Ethiopian community come -- they love seeing the things they see back home.”
For those that have already dropped by Esey or want to start cooking with some new spices, Zersenai said that cooking classes and seminars will soon be held at the store.