The produce is gorgeous and abundant. The selection enticing. And the prices have come down since the pre-Christmas madness. I was up bright and early this morning to forage at the FTI Saturday market and got there just as the sun was rising. I was greeted with an extremely robust set of vegetable offerings. Produce from the Mt. Province has apparently recovered from the storms a couple of months ago, and the cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots were absolutely stunning. My favorite find this morning? Some “native” or more thin-skinned unusually shaped “heirloom-esque” tomatoes that are great in local salads or chopped/smushed into local dips or sawsawan.
I also got some incredible pako or fiddlehead ferns, locally grown young fennel (fronds in photo above), miniature eggplants, ampalaya (bitter gourds), squash blossoms, okra etc. for a pinakbet or vegetable stew. There was fresh dayap, incredible asparagus and lots of leafy herbs. Got all the basics too. It’s so nice to shop at a market when there is this kind of abundance. I know many readers are thinking of eating lighter and healthier meals after the holiday binge, so it’s time to get to a market near you. Not a supermarket, a wet market. :)
Postscript – A few more notes on these tomatoes, after some questions raised in the comments section.
I have written about these “native” tomatoes before, here, and in that post is a link to Karen of Pilgrims and Pots’ post on the same variety of tomatoes, here. Sister wonders if these might be similar to an Italian variety that look the same, and while they could be, I am more inclined to believe these are about as “native” or as “local” as they get. Probably our mutated or naturally evolved version of the tomato/seeds introduced by the Spaniards/Mexicans several hundred years ago.
This particular type of local tomatoes have been getting scarcer and scarcer to find, probably due to the fact that they have nearly no shelf life. Picked green and transported from Ilocos to Manila (top photo), these ripen VERY FAST and get incredibly soft and mushy within 36-48 hours from the first photograph above. In fact, in the third photo above, the fruit has gone from green to pinkish orangey green in less than 24 hours. With a very thin skin and watery pulp, these are good for particular uses, but vary noticeably from more standard meaty salad or stewing tomatoes. For me, they will be perfect in a salsa/dip for fried fish by dinner time this evening.
These native or local tomatoes typically DO NOT turn the rich ripe red orange of a more classic salad tomato (at least the ones available in Manila, as opposed to all the wonderful colors of salad tomatoes in the U.S. and Europe during the summer months). That’s a salad tomato on the left of the photo, I have been ripening it on the kitchen counter for 3-4 days before it reached this stage.
Instead, I find the local tomatoes get a light red/pinkish blush when fully ripe. In this final photo, two local tomatoes from the same batch as the top tomato are photographed upside down to show you how they ripe from below… While I generally agree that some folks, like myself, would love the vine-ripened flavorful tomatoes Sister refers to, and are defnitely willing to pay more, the reality in the Philippines is that the vast majority of tomatoes purchased are used for home “gisa” or sofrittos or soups like sinigang, so the bulk of the population tends to buy their tomatoes a little unripe, and keeps them at home for the whole week in varying stages of ripeness as they cook with them.