“Bago”. Huh?! That’s the answer to my question posed in Cebuano asking what these young, vibrant green leaves were. I thought she meant they were young leaves. But apparently they were called bago, as in the type of tree. Apparently used as a slight souring agent for soups, like nilangang baka or boiled beef, these leaves are also sometimes added to vegetable dishes, or blanched and eaten with dried fish. I have NEVER seen them or come across them before. Nor did I have any idea what they were called in English or Filipino. Until I googled them and amazingly found this site that lists bago as one of the things Aetas of Morong, Bataan consume! They are considered rather nutritious, and have the tongue twister of a scientific name Gnetum gnemon Linn. Gnetaceae, I kid you not. For me, the bago leaves were one of the more unusual things on offer at the roadside produce market in Mantalongon, Barili, walking distance from the livestock auction market. I almost always stop at provincial markets if they look promising, and this one was wonderful in its simplicity. Perhaps only 20-30 vendors were there the morning we passed by, and their goods were fairly limited, but exquisitely fresh. In fact, most of the sellers grew the produce themselves or were related to the farmers.
The root crops looked really fresh, but the colors, sizes and shapes of the kamote (sweet potatoes) and other root crops were, in many ways, soothingly inconsistent.
This basket of local tomatoes looked brilliant, and were so reasonably priced, that I bought the entire basket!
Bananas, beans, okra and chillies.
A nice pile of kamansi.
Gorgeous and enormous lanzones. I assumed they must have been brought from Mamabajao, Camiguin, but it turns out they were locally grown! And the vendor was so honest, and said “they look good, but aren’t so sweet, not like the Camiguin ones”, so unfortunately, she didn’t make a sale…
Bunches and bunches of green onions, under a make-shift stall.
I noticed this older lady packing some coconut leaf containers with rice to make some puso, but there was something unusual about the rice she was using…
…on closer inspection, it turned out she was adding a few grains of sticky purple rice to the usual white rice, making the puso slightly fragrant with tinges of purple… a little innovation to a product that is otherwise so common in these parts. We purchased a dozen of these puso and cooked them at home.
And finally, after the produce marketing, we stopped to get several dozen freshly baked bibingkas or rice cakes from roadside vendors. We were snacking on them on the drive back to Cebu city, and less than half of the bibingka them made it back to the office! Next up, an answer to the chicharon poll…