The vegetables and herbs in Busay are actually inter-cropped or grown together with the flowers… not sure why or if this results in benefits for both the flowers and vegetables, but it was interesting to walk amongst the rows of veggies and flowers because it seemed so mixed up… but there must be reason to this madness. Now I understand why the Carbon market has such an incredibly varied selection of fresh looking vegetables – it is located just an hour or so away by foot, tricycle and bus from the farms… This is one of the closest farm to market journeys for a fairly large Asian city like Cebu. Again, I now wonder why vegetables don’t feature more prominently in local restaurant menus… they are almost an afterthought… In the first photo up top, I came across a pail of freshly harvested capsicums which, after many plantings from seed to fruit to seed again, have also become more localized, smaller and possessing a more intense flavor than their hybrid cousins in the West. These are really nice in stews, paellas, roasted, etc. The pail was just sitting there at the end of the day, apparently waiting for a trip to the market that evening…there was no one around to “guard it,” but I folks are very trusting in these parts…
When I was much younger, my father, the vegetable know-it-all (as head of a national program to improve nutrition), refused to let us eat kangkong (water spinach) because he was certain that the greens were chockfull of fecal matter from dirty swampy areas… so for many years we avoided this wonderful vegetable… but I have always liked kangkong so when I got older, I used to eat it frequently, health warnings be damned. Many years later, at a dinner party for family guests, my father included, I served adobong kangkong and my Dad gave me this cross look like I was a 12-year old and defying the no-kangkong order given by the resident vegetable czar. I explained it was Chinese or upland kangkong and he still refused to eat it. Well here is a photo of a well tended row of stunningly good-looking upland kangkong. As you can plainly see, it isn’t in a dirty swamp and it tastes terrific and isn’t any more at risk for cooties than other veggies grown in the area… arrgh, if I had a wok and some oil, garlic and fish sauce I would have been in kangkong heaven…
Next up, I spotted some Cebuano sitaw (I differentiate them from regular sitaw only becuase they seem shorter and have a noticeable tinge of purple on one side of the bean pod, but they taste the same as regular sitaw) growing on the vine, and a few minutes later, for sale at a roadside stand.
Corn doesn’t get much fresher than this, right on the stalk, then minutes later for sale roadside. Corn was surprisingly pricey here, at roughly PHP10-12 per ear, almost, if not surpassing, Manila prices. But cooked for just a few minutes in boiling water, the corn was sweet, juicy and worth every centavo.
The vistas in this vegetable and flower growing area in the heart of Cebu were quite different from the views along the coast of the island.
The leaves of a newly harvested savoy cabbage were so crisp you could tell it was alive just minutes before.
Pails of green tomatoes ready for the market.
Pale capsicums still on the plant.
Fiery dark green chillies also thrived next to the chrysanthemums.
And finally, several local herbs were interspersed among the veggies… including this striking herb with deep burgundy leaves, locally called mayana, sometimes smashed and laid on boils, or to help heel toothaches and headaches… It was extremely refreshing to see all of this stuff at the source, now I have a much better appreciation for the produce that I buy in the markets in Cebu and Manila…