Tuesday, April 5, 2016

To market, to market ... to the Lucena Public Market

Lucena City is the capital of Quezon province, centre of business and trade.  This is where Jay comes from and where his mother still lives.
Through the years that  I have been going to Lucena, malls and department stores have cropped up but when I was there for a few days last week, I never set foot in one, instead I went everyday to
the Lucena Public market.

The market is a few kilometres from the house and since it's too hot to walk, I hop on a tricycle, something I quickly regret because (gasp) traffic, in the form of jeeps, cars and tricycles, now also plague Lucena's roads.  It would have been faster if I had walked.

The public market burned down a year or two ago and the new structure has yet to be finished.
As such, the market has been split into two areas a few blocks apart.

I get off the tricycle,  as traffic  has come to a complete standstill.  

There are fruit stands lining the narrow street, which of course adds to the traffic and congestion.

The vegetable sellers are all on the sidewalk.  I stop to buy a kilo of the ripe and red tomatoes -- 
only P20 a kilo.

I had been looking for tamarindo for ages and was so happy to see it sold here.  It cost P10 for the small pack and P30 for the bigger pack.  My father used this as a souring agent for sinigang, as a 
base for a sauce for fried and steamed seafood and also, boiled with brown sugar and mixed with 
lots of ice, it makes a tart and refreshing drink.

My favourite patani (lima beans) are shelled and shucked and spread out on this bilao (reed basket), so green and pink and pretty.  I cannot resist and buy two small glasses -- this will go well with sigarilyas (wing beans) and sitaw (string beans), cooked in coconut cream.

Native kakanin or rice cakes always make me stop dead in my tracks.  This vendor had a bilao full of pilipit (fried glutinous rice twists), butchi (yam filled rice balls) and even some  fried, sugar topped  camote (sweet potato) slices. 

Another vendor had a bilao of shiny, caramel coloured biko (rice cake),  so mouthwatering, all sliced and waiting to be sold.

These conical suman (steamed rice cakes) are wrapped in ibos or buri leaves.  They come in big 
and small sizes and are unsweetened, just the way I like them to be.  There are also packs of 
suman sa lihiya (rice cakes cooked with lye water) with the requisite coco jam sauce.  

With all the stops I had made, my basket was pretty full (and yes, heavy)  when I finally reached 
the old market building itself. The basement houses the wet section where mostly fish and meat 
are sold.  

Lucena has a fish port so you can expect different kinds of fish and seafood on sale.  They are 
usually priced  much lower than Manila but this being Holy Week, prices are higher than usual.
But every thing is fresh so I don't mind paying the premium. 

A large tray of edible conch shells attract buyers.  I stop to ask the vendor how she would cook this and I should have guessed what she would say "ginataan" (with coconut cream).   Coconut cream is such a staple ingredient here in Quezon.

I see a small shark along with some pagi or stingrays.   While I know kinunot na pagi (stingray shredded and cooked with coconut cream) is a delicacy in Quezon, the vendor told me that shark is cooked in much the same way.  
In Orani, Bataan where I come from, shark is also a delicacy -- specifically the meter-long species we call "hingkin" which is seasonal, found only  during the months of March to early April. 

There are bunches of alimango and alimasag (mud crabs and spider crabs) and an enticing pile of fresh,  large clams.  The clams are a good size -- the ones I buy in Manila so much smaller, perhaps just 1/3 of this size.

I buy a kilo of the clams (just P80!) and the vendor shows me this spiny shell which she said is called "kilay ng dalaga" (maiden's eyebrows).  The name is certainly more attractive than how it looks and for now, I pass up on this creature.

One final stop at the friendly meat vendor for some liempo (pork belly) and I am good to go.

Right above the wet market section is the area for vegetables and other dry ingredients.  Since I have bought all that I need from the sidewalk vendors, I no longer need to go up.

Back at my mother-in-law's house, it's time to empty my market baskets and prep for tonight's dinner.

Entonces, everything I bought has been cooked in this large paella!  
I served this at dinner to my  95 year old mother in law and to my sister in law and they
enjoyed it very much.
The fresh ingredients of this paella were all sourced from the public market ...  shall I then call 
it  Paella a la Lucena? 
Kain na! 

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