What’s in the Manila Markets Now…


I find that local markets hit an incredible low in late-May and early June… there seems to be less variety, quality and volume of produce on offer. It seems somewhat illogical at first, since the peak of the summer should be when fruit and other vegetables should also reach their peaks, but after many years back home, I find that the vendors have less to offer for a 4-6 week period during the Philippine school holiday season. Now I think there are some logical reasons for this market malaise. m2First, the heat is almost too much for the produce and transporting it means steaming it on the way to the markets. Also, fruits and vegetables are quite perishable so vendors buy less fearing a high loss rate. Many buyers may also be on vacation and away in the provinces or out of town. Folks are gearing up for school and tightening their spending on non-school items, etc. etc. But for some reason, the markets perk up just a few weeks after school starts and I think yesterday was a turning point this year. There was more on offer at the markets, prices were okay, and there was a lot of volume changing hands… I went to the market by myself and at the end of 1 hour had purchased over 25 kilos of goods, filled three market baskets and was sweating like a hog… First neat find were these organically grown white and purple eggplants shown here. Genetic mutants, these seemed like the perfect eggplants to use in an experimental bicolano style dish up soon…

I also found native dayap fruit (as opposed to the larger imported strains of limes) and purchased nearly everything my suki had – close to 2 kilos that wasn’t even enough to make two dayap pies that tasted utterly delicious…


The siling mahaba also looked terrific so I bought several bags full just in case I decided to make some Bicol Express…


I spied some terrific looking green peppers (capsicum) and got 6, hoping to make some stuffed green peppers in the days ahead…I also got some nice large red capsicum which have been absent from the markets for about 2 months…


From one of my sukis I got these fantastic looking tiny tomatoes still on their vine. Not sure what I will do with them but I couldn’t resist…maybe plop them into a red Thai duck curry…


Finally, I purchased the white puso ng saging or banana blossom, out of curiousity as it has been raised in comments by several readers and would apparently work better than the red variety I recently used in kare-kare or in sinigang…


If you haven’t been out to the markets lately, remember to make a trip next weekend, check out what’s in season, visit your favorite vendors and buy some of the best produce the country has to offer!!!


14 Responses

  1. Is here a chance that I could buy some seeds of those wonderful purple and white stripped eggplants? I love our local eggplants than those obesed looking ones that taste a bit bitter (you kind of salt them to make them sweat to rid of its bitterness) and have more water when cooked. I bet you just let go when you’re in the fresh produce market and you see those colourful fresh veggies beckoning you to buy and cook them sooner or later! I don’t blame you… I won’t even be surprised if have got that feeling of satisfaction and pride with the produce you bought. Ahh, the simple joys of just being in the market.

  2. In your santol preserve post you wondered if you were just a sucker for “memory jarring foods” and now in linking back to your dayap pie, you blamed your “unpredictably mercurial oven” for singeing your graham crust. Boy, I sure gonna miss it when your blog is gone.

  3. Lou, I think the eggplants in the photograph are the result of the plants cross pollinating and eventually “mutating” themselves into these wilder striped versions. I doubt that seeds are commercially available. In some countries, these are “murdered” to ensure uniformity… I almost always let go at the markets…it’s the best way for me to splurge, so much easier on the wallet than say going wild at an electronics store, or worse, a car dealer! Apicio, hopefully I can keep this going for a while longer! My backlog of photos and unwritten articles is about 50 long and the holidays are coming up faster than it seems…just 6 months till Christmas and Filipinos around the world seem to go pinoy food recipe crazy about a month before Christmas!

  4. May Market Manila be around for a very long time! Here’s a thought, MM—isn’t it time you packaged all this yummy stuff into…say, a dvd or a cd-rom or a book? Those 10,000 hits of yours for putahe idol says volumes. The other way, of course, is to dispense with your anonymity and film a food/cooking/cultural celebration show that can be released on network, cable or sold in dvd versions. :-) Spread the joy, I say!

  5. The whole weekend, I was thinking what Kate was thinking.
    What a brilliant idea! Sige na,MM.

  6. lori, I usually hit the FTI market in Taguig, zip by the Salcedo market for herbs and cooked delicacies, if still left wanting, head to the Lung Center in QC on Sunday (but not often) and possibly run by Farmers market in Cubao if there is a lot on the list…

  7. Hey MM, if you ever decided to package your excellent write ups into a cd-rom, dvd, book (or whatever is going to be invented yet) count me in as one of those who will rush to buy them! I think it’s worth it all as Kate suggested. Opening the site “religiously” is something to look forward to each day. What a wealth of info and with some tones of lightness, (even with that fish pan thingy… ouch, I literally saw red everywhere in every period and coma and exclamation point. Furious is a very light way to describe how you felt…) it’s quite a pleasure to read. I even decided to go way back to your early posts since I missed a lot of them!
    Keep it alive MM…you’re special to us!!!

  8. Amen, amen…logging in from catarman, northern samar, so i don’t get left behind.

  9. MM, have you tried cagayan de oro’s kiniaw version which is soured (and perfumed) with dayap juice and, in some cases, dayap rind, and that hard-skinned fruit which they grate over the fish to remove some of the lansa? am having a senior moment, can’t recall the name right now….ay, tabon-tabon ba yon? anyway, dayap (to be exact, it is “biasong”, a different kind of lime which is neither calamansi nor makrut)makes heavenly kinilaw!

  10. millet, I haven’t tried the dayap version but I can see how it would be spectacular. I really like dayap…its fragrance is intense and flavor so crisp. I have never been to CDO, just Davao once on the entire island of Mindanao…

  11. wow! ang sarap naman ng puso ng saging sa pic mo MM, na-miss ko na tuloy ang luto ng Nanay ko. She would make salad out of the puso ng saging tapos lalagyan nya ng ginataan. i wish i could find a fresh one here in US. does anybody have any idea where i can find one here in AZ?

  12. MM, I just saw (at the grocery here in Houston, TX) eggplants that were similar to the purple and white ones you have in the picture here. They are marked as “Eggplant Graffiti” and are imported from Holland. I did some online research and the CHOW.com site states, “Ivory white and graffiti eggplants maybe found especialy in areas with a large Italian population. They are smooth and creamy when cooked, without the bitterness sometimes found in dark varieties. However, they do have tougher skin and larger seeds.”

  13. ECC, thanks for that… these ones were definitely not recent seed imports but how nice that they come with such an interesting provenance…they did taste good, if I recall correctly… :)



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