Farmers Market: The Best Wet Palengke

Want to get a good dose of fresh seafood? Skip the Supermarkets and head to the wet market. You’ll save your hard earned money for getting the best and freshest meat, fish and produce. In the past decade, western-style supermarkets sprouted like mushrooms in so many parts of the country. Name such as supermarket or hypermarket attached to giant names like SM, Puregold, Robinsons, Cash and Carry, Shop Wise etc, all caters to growing population of city dwellers and expats.  It’s certainly not hard to get fascinated in the supermarket feeling, as the immediate indulgence for watermelon or marinated pork steak in a cart can be extremely satisfying. The regulated cleanliness and well-stocked aisles are also a welcome sanctuary within the busy schedules of the working class.

On one side, shopping at the local “wet” markets can be extremely rewarding.  Aside from the financial benefit for its lower price, you can get the freshest and the best quality of vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood. However, wet market can be scary and not for the squeamish. Weird smells, bizarre products, and odd methods of business can disappoint someone to navigate a wet market. As a tip, not all wet markets are the same, there will always be a one of a kind place that you will get in love with.

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I for one have found my favorite, Farmers Market in Cubao Quezon City– one of the cleanest and most organized we market in Metro Manila. It is conveniently located at the intersection of the two busiest streets of the Metro, EDSA and Aurora Boulevard situated in between malls within Araneta Center.  It has airy set-up with wide walkways to accommodate thousands of Palengkeras everyday.  With a private management, one cannot believe that the prices are very competitive, with excellent variety to choose from. Clean, spacious and buzzing with activity, this is the place to go for honey, milk, crafts, flowers, vegetables, meat and seafood. The place is covered by a high ceiling that resembles an indoor tennis court or a warehouse. It provides an airy ambiance and not-so-dark interior.

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At the upper level of the market, you’ll be greeted by the smell of fresh flowers dozens of stalls selling them. Fruits and Vegetables are also housed in this area.

The flower section

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Vegetable stand

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Fruit Stalls

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Instead of the stale smell of a combination of different decaying meat, fish, and their products, you can actually distinguish the freshness of the smell of these produce.

The lower lever houses the Fish Section at the west side, and the meat and poultry section at the east side.

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Irresistible atmosphere, with parallel rows of fish and seafood items and odd-looking specimens of your choice.

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Seaweeds

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Giant Tahong/Mussels, Shellsfish, Oyster

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The Meat Section:

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Market shoppers are encouraged to weigh their purchases of dry and wet goods for free at the Timbangan ng Bayan located at the central portion of the market.

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When you’re tired and hunger strikes you, you may go to the Dampa(Paluto) section for a stall to cook what you bought.

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The handicraft section at the east wing.

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Although you may not actually see a farmer here, it is the main point of intervention between farmers and reseller.  They have a wholesale section.

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Sanitary is one of the great things about this market, they have their own Recycling Facility/Waste Recovery at the east side.

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But apart from the all-rounded sensory experience(colorful experience), there is one more thing I must pen down.  My fascination of Wet Markets brings back my childhood memories wherein my mother used to take me to the Wet Markets every Palengke day (Wednesdays and Sundays). So, I visited the Farmers Market with a silly grin on my face.

Baked Mac-and-Cheese: The Palengkera Birthday Treat

First off, I am a little worried about adding a number on my age. Good thing is, I am not good in mathematics, and so, who cares. It is just a number. On the other hand, I am thanking the odds and the Universe for letting me enjoy and to laugh another year with my family and friends. Well, it might not be all rainbows and butterflies.  There might be some rough times but it will be all part of what life should be.  Good times will always rule!

So, it’s Sunday and I am celebrating it with a beat. Some of my friends will visit in a while for dinner.  I am thinking of the easiest route or to just ask someone to deliver it all, but I am very prideful of my cooking and baking skills.  Oh, well it’s my birthday, so I deserve a shining moment today.  The only thing is, I can’t figure out what to cook or bake.

I am determined to make my birthday special so I am thinking of cupcakes but it’s a lot to work on a hot afternoon.  I just wanted something a bit more different than a cake, so I decided to make Mac and Cheese baked in mini cups. This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, simple and easy.  I wanted to share it with you today (with the photos on how to make it) in case you’ve never gotten a chance to make it. To say, this mac-and-cheese recipe is a treat and is a wild underestimation. It’s so good, it makes grown men cry (and to get attention from your DOTA-addict boyfriend).

The wonderful thing about this baked mac-and-cheese is that it is perfectly delicious on its own, or with bbq, or paired with other birthday treats. Good source of protein, vitamin A, B group vitamins, calcium.  In fact, I might have to make this again tomorrow for a little celebration at work.  Celebrants are expected to bring food as this is the aged-old custom.  How I wish this tradition overturns during  birthdays, potluck for me is recommended.  But hey, that rule is for my birthdays only.

I went to a mini-Palengke and Grocery to buy the things needed:

  • 1 (12 ounce) package macaroni
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups Whip Cream
  • 1/2 cup of condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Anyway, here’s how you make it.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease aluminum baking trays or paper minicups.

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2. In a large pot of salted water, lightly boil the macaroni for about 5 minutes until half-cooked.

3. Whisk the egg and whip cream/milk together in a large cup. Add butter and cheese to the egg and milk. You may add 1/2 of condensed milk as optional. Stir well.

4. Place the lightly cooked macaroni in the prepared baking dish. Pour the egg and cheese liquid over the macaroni, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir well. Press the mixture evenly around the baking dish.

First batch looks not so gorgeous but my friend-Palengkenita was delighted with how it tastes.

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The fruit(cheese) of my effort, enduring the heat of the day:

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I just do hope my friends will appreciate my hard work later. But it is enough for me. For the rest of the menu, I just called Amber’s Restaurant for their delivery services.

See you later guys.

The Palengke Metaphor

This is what I came up on a boring hot-Sunday afternoon when it was too punishing to trip the market. Provocative and confrontational metaphor. Lame to most, and somehow mean. With a little trepidation to post this (some might say written in a bad taste), I suppose there are still some who might have a sense of humor. Veering away from guilt, my intention is to promote stuffs that can be seen in a typical Palengke and most importantly to advocate equality. I have to admit that this is not my original thought, I read this somewhere, most likely in Facebook. I tried to make it more fun, informative and enlightening as possible.

However positive we are sometimes, reality still bites.  We may always say “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” or “beauty is more on the inside”.   If you are living in the same planet as I am, we know that appearance can make or break your life. People will always judge us by our looks even if in their conscience they know it to be awful.  It is normal, it is human. The appearance department still thrives to control the society and the market as a whole.  It dictates the relationship we have, the friends we join, to prospective employers we seek.

I’ve listed all the things that we normally see in a Palengke and to compare them to whom/what we see somewhere else, at home, the office where we work, parks, bars, buses, toilets or on your own mirror.  So choose what associates you best.   In the spirit of fun, may the humor be with you.

  1. Lobster. (Classy version of Hipon).  You may indulge yourself in its body, but you can’t enjoy the head.   Some would say, it has a body to die for but not facially stunning.

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Types of Lobster:

  • Fresh Lobster.  Fresh and original. They have beautiful body untouched by a scalpel. Not a thank you Doc.

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  • Tempura Lobster. Beautiful body, not so blessed with face value but they are lobster with sense of fashion and styling. They call Belo or Calayan to maintain their figure.

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2. Lollipop. Their head is what matters. Their body might look like an android, but their head is essential.

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3. Bone Marrow Stew (Bulalo). Unsightly face and body. Their totality doesn’t look good, but don’t underestimate them, they are respected for their brains.  Their edge is for question and answer portion.

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4. Coconut (Buko).  Pure inside. Neither good looking and sexy, however they exude kindness, faithfulness and a good heart. They usually bag the Miss Congeniality award. In the real world, they are rare and nearly extinct.

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Types of Coconut:

  • Fresh Buko(Coconut) Juice.  They are naturally well mannered and kind.  No pretensions and no conditions. When you ask if they are sexy? the answer is friendly.  When asked if they are pretty, they are actually kind.

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  • Buko Juice in a Plastic Cup. From the word itself, it implies a make-believe “goodness”. In reality, they just pretend to be good to get what they want. They are mostly public figures or politician that uses acts of kindness to win the public.

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5. Durian/ Jackfruit.  They might smell like a feet, you can’t get enough once you started tasting them. Ignore the smell and the looks and you’ll be delighted. Scary and Cratery outside but sweet inside.

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6. The Mango. They can be pretty and sexy.  This is the fruit that launched a thousand curvy-long faces.  Pointed and deadly.  Very Reese Witherspoon and Celine Dion.

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7. Ice Cream They are perfect.  They look good, sexy and sweet. Complete package.

Types of Ice Cream:

  • Simple Ice Cream.  They are the naive ice cream, yet tasty and in demand.  Sometimes, you may refer them as provincial beauty.  Foreigners like them.

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  • Häagen-Dazs. They are classy and delicious. They might be pricey, but they deserve the hype.

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  • Selecta Magnum. Overrated ice cream. The experience is good but a bit pricey for what they worth.  They are sometimes available in Pegasus.

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8.Lumpia (Spring Rolls). You can eat everything from head to toe. But you can’t be satisfied with the height or length.

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and finally, Coca Cola Undisputed beauty. The most popular refreshment.  Sweet, cool and refreshing beauty.

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I am confident that this is what best describes me, coke. How about you?

Most of the times, looks matter in a lot of situations. It is important to understand that today, unfortunately, we live in a world which is focused on the outside appearance. We know that media has set the standard of beauty- TV, radio, and magazine advertisements always prevent us from focusing on what really matters- equality.

I do hope though that it is not too late for us to realize that whatever we associate ourselves to, we co-exist in the same world. We might have differences in the looks department, but one cannot exist without the other.  I think the key is for us to learn to accept how we look and at the same time, to respect others. So as with all things I listed above, a Palengke’s splendor is not complete without one of them.