Going to the market is a common preoccupation of the cook or a foodie, in the same way that a designer or an editor regularly browses through fashion magazines and in the case of a doctor, a catalog of speculums, perhaps (tama ba, Dr. Emer?)In the Philippines, the market is the nerve center of the community where news or gossip is often exchanged and much haggling occurs. Whenever I visit a new town or city in these sunny islands, I always make it a point to drop by their market to taste the local delicacies, buy pasalubong or to simply observe what unique foodstuff they have to sell.
Unfortunately, Philippine markets still have a long way to go in terms of sanitation. Correct me if I’m wrong but when you say wet market here, it is literally wet. There is always some fella mindlessly pouring his pail of drippings onto the drainage without an iota of regard for your newly-manicured feet. Or, it might just happen that some fish scales will land on your face because a vendor is briskly doing his chore in front of you. Yikes. This was not so when I visited the market in Bangkok. You could eat right there and savor the food because everything was clean.
In Manila, the cleanest market I’ve been to was Suki Market in Quezon City.It is also very well organized and the stall owners even sell take-home food like sushi, quekiam, crabs with black bean sauce and the usual embotido/rellenong bangus.
I haven’t been to Market! Market! in the Fort but it was fun discovering the Salcedo Village Weekend Market last Saturday. The whole family was to lunch in Greenbelt but this peripatetic Mom, being the Boss, decided to make a detour to Tordesillas St. to see what this market was all about.
I have to say it was refreshing to see a well-heeled crowd, most of whom were probably living in condominiums nearby. In the “plants” section, I saw Tina Ocampo talking to Doris Ho while in another stall, I glimpsed upon former model Alta Tan. My nanny, on the other hand, thought she saw a famous basketball player with his girlfriend. Hmmm, interesting…
But first and foremost, I’m a foodie, not a gossip columnist so I couldn’t care less who was with who in the weekend market…LOL. There were all these stalls selling interesting foodstuff like the California funnel cake, Vietnamese sapin-sapin, lemon bars, empanadas, hams, and all those fancy pasta sauces. I was much intrigued by the sight of giant paelleras in one stall offering paella negra/ arroz Valenciana but the coiffed/paranoid owner asked “May I know what’s that for???” and so I retreated with my digital camera. I was also salivating with the sight of the liempo, tilapia and tuna belly roasting in the open fire..until I remembered that this was not supposed to be the place where I was eating my lunch.
Of course, health nuts can revel in the numerous organic offerings of the Salcedo Weekend Market… from the rice to vegetables (such as the one shown in photo) and other fresh mountain produce. It is definitely worth another visit and next time, I will sit in one of the market’s shaded Monobloc tables having my fill of the juicy tuna belly with rice. Yum!