Friday, December 21, 2007

To market, to market...and a big Thank You

First of all, I would like to thank every one of you who has left such warm and kind comments on my last post, and who sent me emails full of virtual hugs and comforting words. Every comment and every email was greatly appreciated…and helped tremendously. I am stunned and amazed and touched and grateful that I have connected with such and incredible bunch of people…all because of this little blog. This cyber world we inhabit is truly a miracle.

Here is another thing that brings me comfort…

Going to the market is something I find therapeutic and soothing. Walking among cheery looking fruits and vegetables, peaceably lying together and patiently waiting for some shrewd marketer to snatch them up, is my idea (well, one of them at least) of perfect, cathartic, "me-time" (well, when I’m alone at least). Which is probably why I find myself, many a Saturday, crawling out of bed while C is still fast asleep, tossing on something decent (perhaps a big pair of sunglasses if Friday night was extra brisk), and making my way to our neighboring village market.

I have a whole routine which I take simple, almost childlike, pleasure in. I take my ratty pink market bag, which is really just a freebie I got from a bookstore. It’s the perfect size and water-proof and I love it (more so since it was freefreefree). I also take a small cooler which I leave in the car, just in case some interesting crustacean catches my eye. Or I am moved to buy some Wagyu beef. Or I need to replenish our longanisa stash – this market has a great variety of local sausages and I love trying them all. Or I get tempted by the fresh local cheeses. When I arrive, I stop by the stall selling freshly made piyaya first to get my breakfast. This flat, tart-like snack has a sticky-sweet filling of muscovado sugar inside a thin flaky crust. Hot of the griddle it is amazing, and a great way to start the day.

My own neighborhood’s market, albeit smaller, has just moved even closer to my flat. So that was a whole other excursion and another reason to put a smile on my face. They seem to have more purveyors now too.

As you can imagine, this season is beyond busy and these little escapes are very much welcome…and needed. No cooking to share, but here are some small bits of happiness that I picked up at my neighborhood markets.

I spotted the little carrots still with their stalks from a mile away. The photo doesn’t really capture it, but their stalks were lush beyond belief. Like the veggie version of those old-time shampoo commercials where the models swing impossibly luxuriant manes like matadors. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I snagged them without a second thought. I roasted them with onions and garlic and some Zamboanga sausage that we got on our trip there. I just tossed them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, added a bunch of parsley, and that was that.

My favorite herb/veg farmer pressed a bunch of greens in my hand while I was poking around his stall…"Wild arugula", he said. Oh yes. I am a huge arugula/rocket fan, and the arrival of wild arugula is always greeted with delight. He tore of a piece for me to taste (as he always does) and I was sold…it was everything I loved about arugula, but brighter and more pronounced, with more of a kick, “wilder” I suppose you could say, to make a bad pun of it what the hey. Unfortunately, although the leaves were bright green and sprightly, they had those holes in them veggies sometimes get (when attacked by little critters?). They tasted fantastic though so I threw caution to the wind and got myself a bunch. Aside from salads, this was surprisingly good in a chili con carne wrap that I had for days on end.

The peppers are from the same stall and something I have grown to love since being introduced to them. Of the capsicum family, they are smaller and have thinner skin then the regular red and green variety you see around. They also have a pleasant sweetness. The purveyor said they were "lipstick peppers", although I'm certain the cute name had anything to do with my attraction to them...oh no, not me. I’m sure they would be fabulous stuffed and baked, but I have yet to move on from having them in my scrambled eggs…which I am unabashedly loving. Another thing I am unabashedly loving are these plastic bowls and utensils (I’ve got plates and glasses too!) that I got from IKEA during a recent trip to Hong Kong. A good excuse to have a picnic I say.

I guess I am lucky that such simple things, like finding a nice bunch of carrots, make me happy…because it’s that much easier to get my thrills :) Alone time at the market has definitely been a solace over the past month. As has spending time with my family. As has all of your beautiful messages. As has the gentle, steady rhythm of stirring away at batch after batch of this year’s Christmas presents…but that’s for another post.

To everything and everyone who has made me smile…Thank you!


Manggy said...

I'm glad you're feeling better. And which neighborhood market is this? I've been looking for such beautifully pinnate arugula since forever!

Katrina said...

Where did the Legazpi Market move to (I'm assuming that's what you were referring to)?

Your post and cheery photos made me smile, Joey! I'm glad you have these simple pleasures to help you cope. One of the things I so admire about you is that nothing can keep you down for very long.

I hope you and C have a brilliant Christmas!

Suzana said...

Joey, good to hear you're feeling better! And what a lovely post with awesome photos - you have a great eye.

I love local markets too. When we travel abroad, there's this routine I call M&M: museums & markets. Kind of an odd mix but so cool!

Merry Christmas!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Joey you are a smart woman to enjoy some comforting routine. Wise to take care of yourself.

mtan said...

That last photo was lovely, greens offset by the orange. They all look so plump and appetizing.

Have a wonderful christmas Joey!

Rasa Malaysia said...

I loooove going to the market too, so I never miss them whenever I go home to my hometown in Malaysia. Here in the US, market means supermarket, and there is no chaos, and everything is nicely arranged in aisles, well, you get what I mean. I love our Southeast Asian markets, dirty, noisy, chaotic, but the best (and real) in my opinion. :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Manggy! Thank you...the wild arugula came from the Herbana Farms stall at Salcedo Market and the charming grower is Gil Carandang...he always has something interesting to offer :)

Hi Katrina! They moved to the carpark along Rufino st...not far off but much closer to me now, I just cross the street...thanks for all your sweet comments, they never fail to make me smile too! Merry Christmas!

Hi Suzana! Thank you, thank you :) I had some great that definitely helped with the photos. Markets and Museums sounds perfect...definitely a mix I would also enjoy. Have a merry Christmas!

Hi Tanna! It keeps me in a good place...which in turn makes me a better person to be I like to think that we all benefit :)

Thanks Mila! Green and orange are my colors after all ;) You have a wonderful Christmas too!

Hi Bee! SEAsian markets do have incredible's always so invigorating to be in the middle of it all :) If I could rely on markets and small specialty shops alone I think I would leave the supermarket shopping behind...Happy Christmas!

Ipshi said...

dear joey, its great to see you back! doing the things we love gives us strenght in so many ways... I'm glad to see the smile back on ur face... god bless you and your loved ones this festive season

Cakespy said...

Yes, have a wonderful Christmas! The farmers market with its lively and fresh produce always puts me in a good mood! :-)

Bearbrick Lover: said...

I know it has been an emotional roller coaster ride for you lately. But I am glad that you're back, writing words that inspire others and creating pictures that show the beauty of simple things. Merry Christmas, Joey! :-)

Mahek said...

such a well written and photographed post...
Its always a pleasure to read your posts...
i agree with what you say that we have to try to find happiness in small thrills than wait for the big one's to happen which rarely do...
you have taught all of us something precious..
one more favour next time you go to the market pls photograph the breakfast snack that you ate would love to see how it looks..
i like to collect various cups , spoons and fork too just like you...

Lynnylu said...

You have lovely light on your carrots. Good post and photos.

Cenk said...

I loved the carrot photo, too. Perfect lighting! I eat the lipstick peppers you mentioned all year around! My father grows them in his back yard. Guess I am lucky huh?

Thess said...

Joey just a short stop to wish you a BLESSED CHRISTMAS!!

also your pictures are gorgeous! (^0^)

regards from Holland,
Thess (

Paz said...

What fun you have in the marketplace. What good foods you're able to buy. I'm sending you a big hug.

Paz xoxo

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ipshi! It's good to be back here in this little space that gives me so much joy :) Thank you for your warm greetings and I hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season!

Hi Cakespy! I hope your Christmas was also wonderful :) Seeing fresh produce always makes me real meaning to the phrase "veg-out" :)

Merry Christmas BBL! Thank you for your sweet comment...I would love to think that my words and photos touch even just one person this season...that would be a fantastic gift for me :)

Hi Mahek! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving such a warm comment :) I'm so glad you enjoy the posts and the photos as much as I enjoy making them...I'll try to photograph the piyaya and post it here once I have :) It is really quite delicious! Until's to the small thrills that make us smile! :)

Thanks Lynnylu! My lighting all depends on what come in through my window :)

Hi Cenk! Mother Nature takes care of my I'm always praying for sunny days! You are indeed very lucky to have these peppers growing at your dad's :)

Hi Thess! Thank you and I hope you are having a fantastic Christmas season over in Holland! And here's wishing you an equally fantastic New Year!

Thanks for your hug Paz! Here's one for you -- ((HUG)) :)

Ruy said...

Ooooooohh, you're back!!! =)
The carrot photo's are so lovely. They seem to be pulsating!

Joan said...

Hi joey.

happy new year :-)

question, where can i buy rocket here in manila? i fell in love with it when i was in sydney. either in salad or pizza. another question joey, where can i also buy almond meal? went to cook's exchange, rustan's and santi's...wala e :-( hope I can find those stuff...

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Ruy! :) The credit should go to the carrots which were wonderful specimens!

Happy New Year Joan! You can buy rocket/arugula at Rustans or Santi's (sometimes)...also at the Salcedo Market. The Fresh Fields stall at Market! Market! also carries it. When a recipe calls for almond meal I usually buy ground almonds in Santi's, or just buy almonds wherever and grind them myself :)