Friday, May 25, 2012

My Visit to a Philippines Market

A couple of years ago I had pictures from a Philippines market sent to me. In July of 2011, when my girlfriend Ren invited me to visit the Binakayan wet market in Kawit, Cavite Philippines in person, I jumped at the chance!

In the USA we call open markets farmers markets, but in the Philippines they are often referred to as wet markets. Uncertain as to why it is called a wet market, I looked it up.  It is called a wet market because large amounts of water are used to rinse the floors and wash the fruits and vegetables.  I suppose it could also be called a wet market because of all of the live fish tanks.

We arrived at the market about 10am and it was throbbing with human activity.  All along the entrance to the market were lined hundreds of small motorbikes and equal numbers of people.  There are also quite a few vendors along the entryway, mostly those who cannot afford to pay for a space inside the market. It was there that Ren introduced me to the world famous Mango Lady. Well, at least she’s famous to me and she also sells the freshest and sweetest mangos in the world, The Guimaras Mangoes which are grown on Guimaras Island/Province. I have to agree, Guimaras Mangoes are incredible and once you eat one, you will crave them.   

The entrance to the Binakayan Wet Market Resembles a cross between a
motorcycle rally and a swap meet! There are plenty of vedors outside the
market. The market itself is in the quonset shaped building in the background.

 The market was quite a departure from the more subdued farmers markets I have visited in the USA and Central America. Most of the market is indoors in a very large warehouse.  There were many catacomb like aisles lined with hundreds of vendor booths selling everything from jumbo-sized vegetables to chicken feet and pig’s heads.  Ren’s family was cooking me a special Filipino dinner that day of pinakbet, grilled pork, and pancit.  The Binakayan Wet Market is best described as a colorful carnival of typical and less than typical edibles.  If it grows in the earth, swims in the oceans, or roots in a barnyard, you can probably find it in the wet market…that is of course, everything but beef; I saw no beef at the wet market.  There were many different varieties of seafood including large tanks of a Filipino favorite and mine, Tilapia!!! I even saw a stingray in one of the booths; we didn’t buy it.

Illegal Vendors set up shop just outside the market.  In The Philippines,
people do what they have to just to survive. 

We stopped by a vegetable stand and purchased some eggplant, string beans, okra, and bitter melon for the pinakbet.  Then we stopped by a booth that had a huge table heaped high with a mountain of pork which Ren sorted through until she found just the right ones.  Off to the side was a table with chicken feet and pig’s heads.  Now, I would never buy pork this way in the USA, but I trusted that Ren knew what to look for.  Our health department would never allow meats and poultry to be sold without proper sanitation and refrigeration but it the Philippines it is not uncommon to see an unchilled slab of pork or chicken laying out on a table in the warm tropical air.  Does the word Salmonella mean anything?  I have to say though, the meats were very fresh and tasty and I never even had so much as a hiccup from eating anything bought at the market.  I did get sick from an American restaurant though on my next visit to PI, but that’s a different story.

Ren picks out vegetables for the pinakbet.  Look out for that eggplant Honey!!!

A nice big pile of pork to chose from, flies are extra.   Check out the fancy
cutting board. 

There is really so much I can say about my visit to the wet market, but I think I will let the pictures do the talking.  I absolutely had a great time there and loved taking in this part of the Filipino culture. Thank You Ren, I can’t wait to visit again!!

Pig's head and chicken feet, two of my favorites!  Nothing goes to waste in The

The largest carrots I have ever seen!  I wonder what kind of fertilizer they

Yours truly by the tilapia tanks:)

Milk fish or Bangus are delicious, especially stuffed and are nearly boneless

Stingray anyone??

No visit to The Binakayan Wet Market is complete without a stop to visit the
almost nearly famous Mango Lady.  She really has the best, sweetest mangoes
I have ever tasted!

On the ride home we pass a Filipino biker gang.  Oooooooohh Scary!  Can
you say BLING!!!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tempe Farmers Market: The Place to Go For Arizona Local Foods

There are literally thousands of locally grown or produced products that can be found at the approximately 100 Arizona farmers markets.  Every time I visit a market I find something new and exciting. Recently, however, I found many of them all under one roof at The Tempe Farmers Market!     

I recently launched a new website that lists farmers' markets, and I want to do more than just list them, I want to review them too.  Having decided to devote the majority of my blog to doing this, I set out to review at least one market a month.  I chose Tempe Farmers Market first because It was near my home, and just happened to fit my schedule that day.

I have to admit, I should of done more research before setting out to the market. I set my GPS to  805 S. Farmer in Tempe.  In my mind the market would be housed in a series of white tents and awnings.  Instead it can be found in an unpainted block building right on the SE corner of University and Farmer. My mind was so focused on white canopies that I didn’t even notice the large white van parked out front with a huge banner that says, “Eat Local, Be Happy.”   After passing by several times I pulled in the parking lot of this unassuming grey building and there in front of my eyes, on the entrance door, was a sign that said, “Tempe Farmers Market”, so much for GPS.

The Tempe Farmers' Market,
Plain Outside, Magnificent Inside!
Don't pass it by!
The Entrance To Tempe
Farmers Market; 
Step inside and be amazed!

Had I done my homework I would have learned that Tempe Farmers’ Market is open 7 days a week: Sunday-Thursday from 8am-11pm, Friday 8am-Midnight, and Saturday 8am-Midnight, not just on Saturdays.  They also have Final Fridays event on the last Friday of each month featuring music and vendors.  They post on their  facebook page for  info regarding this event. 

While this market may not be glamorous on the outside, inside it is sparkles.  There are literally hundreds of locally grown and produced foods and products inside, many of which I have seen at other markets.  They have everything from  preservative free artisan breads to locally  produced tortilla strips and salsas.

Inside the store there are hundreds
of local products.

When I asked if I could take a few pictures, owner Daryle Dutton graciously gave me the grand tour!  Daryle is extremely knowledgeable about his products and even though he was very busy, he still took the time to give me a very detailed tour. He passionately supports local producers and growers and is constantly on the lookout for more exciting products.  Daryle’s neice Angie is the general Manager of the market.

Owner Daryle Dutton, pictured at the
Market's coffee bar.

The staff at Tempe Farmers' Market mirrors Daryle enthusiasm; they are very helpful and energetic. The prices at the market are reasonable and there is plenty of parking both at the market and across the street. This market is just plain fun!!!

In addition to carrying many fine local products, The Tempe Farmers’ Market also carries a variety of national brands as a convenience for their customers.  The market also serves as a pickup point for local CSA (community supported agriculture) farms, and also as a pickup point for raw milk from a local dairy plant. In addition, there is a coffee bar There isn’t enough time and room to list all of the wonderful products that can be found here so I’ll let the photos do the talking. You can also check out their complete product list on their website. The best way to find out though is to visit yourself; I highly recommend The Tempe Farmers Market and once you visit, you will too!

Additional Tempe Market Photos