Heading to the market

As a kid, I used to tag along with my mom whenever she had to go to the market–whether it was the one near our old house in Tondo or all the way in Divisoria (ground zero for bargains in Manila).

During these trips to the market, when I wasn’t pestering my mom on when we would have lunch in Jollibee or when we could go home, I observed how she would expertly haggle with the vendors over prices. A back-and-forth with her suki would ensue, sometimes one would appear insulted at the proposed price, or the other would appear as if she got the short end of the stick, but often a compromise would be reached and my mom would walk away with the item having paid for a discounted price. She did it effortlessly and unfortunately, none of us, her kids, ever acquired the same skill.

To the market!

To the market!

This Sunday morning, my sister and I went with her to Sidcor Market in Centris along EDSA in Quezon City. Under the green and white tents, we watched while our mom haggled her way to some discounts. She wasn’t always successful but when she was, my sister and I couldn’t help but shake our heads and laugh.

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Omicho Market in Kanazawa

The Japanese marketplace is one of the many things that struck me about Japan when I went there more than three years ago. Whether it was a big wholesale fish market or a neighborhood market it was always so clean!

In Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, though the vendors were hauling and cleaning and slicing kilos and kilos of seafood, the place was spotless; sure, the floor was wet, but it didn’t reek of that pungent fish market smell. It was more of a subtle saltwater smell from the fresh catch. While busy, it was also relatively (and surprisingly) quiet compared to our bustling marketplaces here (which have their own kind of charm as well). In Tsukiji, what you mostly hear are the hum of motorized carts and forklifts. The workers, vendors and buyers are all going about their business, while us pesky tourists try to stay out of their way.

Nishiki Market in Kyoto was no different. It’s also clean in the entire stretch of the 400-meter long marketplace. While not a sprawling marketplace like Tsukiji, it has served as the ‘Kitchen of Kyoto’ for centuries and comes to life with both locals and tourists in less hushed tones, but still a generally reserved atmosphere.

Of all the things P saw in his short trip to Kanazawa, its marketplace is probably one of the places I would have loved to see. With over 200 stalls and almost 300 years old, I imagine Omicho Market to be like Nishiki (though I’m told it’s more like a maze than a long corridor of food stalls). Also, since Kanazawa is located on the coast of the Sea of Japan, Omicho Market, has a lot of stalls selling fish and other seafood. And where there is a fresh seafood market, there are sushi-ya. Some baskets of fresh seafood has “Eat Me!” signs–obviously targeting tourists who visit. Like Nishiki and Tsukiji, P says Omicho was very clean, busy but subdued. And the food. Oh the food. For now, let’s just imagine we’re wandering through this Japanese marketplace, finding some mouthwatering food.

Omicho Market ...

Omicho Market is a 300-year old marketplace in Kanazawa. It gets busy and crowded in the morning and at noon when the tourists and locals descend their to eat their lunch


Since Kanazawa is located by the Sea of Japan... lot of seafood

Since Kanazawa is located by the Sea of Japan there are many stall selling all kinds of seafood

They're so fresh they encourage you to eat it right there

They’re so fresh they encourage you to eat it right there!

Or take your lunch in one of the many eateries

Or take your lunch in one of the many eateries


High price tags

Some of the seafood carry a high price tag (high compared to the prices of seafood in the coastal areas of the Philippines)


Aside from seafood..,

No funky smell in the wet market? The meat kept behind refrigerated glass counters (and seafood frozen and packed) might have something to do with it.

Shop selling tofu

I love it that there are always shops selling tofu and its other byproducts in Japanese markets. (There are a quite a number in Nishiki)


What's a marketplace without a vegetable stall

What’s a marketplace without vegetable stalls

...and a fruit stall

…and fruit stalls

Fruits in Japan

There are reasonably priced fruits in Japan…but there are also the premium prized ones–like those melons at the back of this stall for 3,000 yen a piece or around P1,300 (some can go as high as 10,000 yen)

According to japan-guide.com, Omicho Market is a 15 to 20 minute walk or a short bus ride from Kanazawa Station on the way to the city center and you need to get off at Musashigatsuji bus stop.

Market day in Ligao, Albay

Every Thursday and Sunday, numerous stalls set up temporary shops along the street in front of the Ligao City Public Market for market day. It’s a day when small farmers head to town with their produce, when the smell of dried fish assaults the packed street, when carts of bright red shallots get parked under an umbrella, when vacationers descend upon the tables filled with candied pili nuts for pasalubong, and women selling mounds of almost translucent alamang (shrimp paste) holler at the crowd. The street comes alive like a fiesta and my mom weaves through it like a local. After all, Ligao is where she was born and raised.

Ligao is a relatively young city (it became one just over a decade ago) and as such, it still has a small rural town vibe. It is one of the cities in Albay, a province in the Philippines largely known for its affinity towards fiery dishes soaked in coconut milk and the majestic (and very active) Mayon Volcano.

We spent Easter Sunday in Ligao and after we heard the 8 a.m. mass, walked to the market to find breakfast and pasalubong or gifts we could bring home. Our first order of business was to buy candied pili nuts to bring home to Manila. I never liked pili nut as a kid, but I grew to like it (the same way I didn’t like buro when I was younger, but grew to love that Kapampangan side dish of fermented rice, which needs an entire blog post to itself). Pili nut tastes quite oily, so I wasn’t surprised that it has one of the highest fat content among nuts.

Packs of candied pili nuts on this table get wiped out in a few minutes

Mom found a stall that sold crispy candied pili nuts. It wasn’t as expensive as the branded ones sold in pasalubong centers, but it was one of the better ones we’ve tried. And soon a crowd was in front of it and the table filled with packets and containers of pili nuts was almost wiped out. After buying all the candied pili nuts we ‘needed’, mom wanted to find raw pili nuts. She wanted to roast them herself, without any sugar, while I wondered if we could use them for pesto. Though pili is locally grown in the Bicol region, we only found one stall in the street market selling them. The stall also had a table filled with some candied versions, but in the corner there was a plastic bag of raw pili nuts. Score! Continue reading

A Bangkok breakfast and a neighborhood weekend market

During weekend mornings, many folks in Metro Manila (at least those who wake up before lunch time) like to troop to the weekend markets around the city. The more popular are Salcedo and Legaspi markets in the CBD of Makati, Mercato Centrale in Bonifacio Global City, and Sidcor Market in Centris along EDSA corner Quezon Ave. in Quezon City (which is where I usually go to after early morning runs, since it’s a few minutes away from the house).

The one Saturday morning we spent in Bangkok, my cousin took me and my sister to the weekend market of her neighborhood to buy our breakfast. Bangkok is certainly well-versed when it comes to shopping and weekend markets. You only have to find yourself in the middle of the sprawling Chatuchak Market, three hours into your shopping and having covered only a row or two of shops to know that Bangkok is serious about shopping. And attracting shoppers. Suan Luang weekend market though, located in a quiet residential area, is not massive nor touristy (shoppers are mostly residents), but the finds are fantastic for anyone in the mood for local Thai food.

slouching somewhere

A part of the Suan Luang market

When we got there, apparently the area near the Suan Luang park, where the weekend market usually sets up, was undergoing some sort of construction or renovation, so the stalls were spread out on the sidewalks and the parking spaces. Good thing my cousin still found her favorite stalls: the one that sells grilled bananas (love this!), another that sells satay or grilled chicken, one that sells steamed brown and white sticky rice (which had quite a queue), and the milk tea stall of a husband and wife who spent the rest of the week working in a law firm.

My favorite Thai food discovery in the market: grilled bananas

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From La Boqueria, with love (and jamon and Manchego cheese)

After attending a work-related conference in Barcelona, Spain, my husband is finally back home. It’s really good to have him back, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that he came back with loads of pretty pictures, lovely postcards for my collection, and mouthwatering Spanish goodies from La Boqueria market. Okay, maybe a little.

I’ve never been to Barcelona and I wish I could have gone with him, but his photos of almost every corner of the beautiful city made me feel just a wee bit (as cheesy as it sounds) like I was there. (And a wee bit jealous too.) I would have loved to see Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, and La Pedrera, the neighborhoods and districts such as Barri Gotic and Eixample, and the marketplaces. Oh, the marketplaces. One of the best places to see the appetite of a city.

A day before heading home, P passed by La Boqueria, a public market in tourist hot spot La Rambla, to buy some salty slices of jamon and manchego cheese. I would have loved to see this colorful and bustling marketplace, which dates back to 1217. But for now these photos and his gift of ham and cheese are my little pieces of Barcelona. Thanks, P!

Find an entrance of Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria from La Rambla

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