I’ve been in Makati several times in the past six months and never gone to the Legazpi Sunday Market, so last weekend was my chance to visit the market for the first time.
The market is set up in a parking lot on Legazpi Street, near the Washington Sycip Active Park. The market is open on Sundays from 0700-14.00. It is about a block of stalls which are basically tents set up over selling tables or café tables and chairs where people can enjoy the food being sold.
And not knowing it was a food market rather than a flea market (which some guides describe, I had already, unfortunately, had breakfast).
Entering the market, the first thing to notice is the fresh seafood stall where there are clams, crabs, and salmon offered for sale among other seafood. The stalls had motorized fans whizzing enthusiastically above the fresh fish to drive away flies.
Meandering away from the seafood, I spotted the little cabinet called the Free Little Library. The rules are take one, leave one. A flyer taped to the side of the little box asked patrons to please leave a similar title, for example if taking a children’s book, please replace it with another children’s book.
A couple of vegetable and fruit stands were doing brisk trade, and local residents of Makati bought their fresh groceries and carried them away in canvas bags or reusable bags. (Makati has a no-plastic bags ordinance.) I came away from the fruits and vegetables hearing French, Hungarian, and English from the buyers, feeling a familiarity and nostalgia with both the mix of languages and the outdoor fresh market similar to the market days in St, Girons in the French Pyrenees.
I started to fantasize about what I might eat if I hadn’t had breakfast yet. As to be expected, there were a couple of barbecue-based stalls, one near the entrance serving chicken, and another serving “Cebu Lechon,” which apparently is quite famous. There were a couple of stalls selling Thai food, and one popular one selling Indonesian dishes.
There were also a variety of alternative foods from the usual offerings in local restaurants. A stall offered plant-based dishes for takeaway purchase. In another stall, a couple of Hungarian guys sold traditional Hungarian sausages.
At the far end of the market, a local company sold interesting local pates and fish in olive oil. That looked interesting. There was also a pasta stall, which made their own noodles with chia and non-wheat ingredients that I would have liked to try.
I got distracted when U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday started up (can you ever miss that drum beat in the beginning of the song?). I followed the song to a booth selling vinyl records and joined the people in it riffling through record jackets, nodding our heads to the song playing on the turntable.
Back to the food fantasy. I was curious about Adam’s Seriously Good Ice Cream, with its remarkable claim of including:
Fresh Cream from France
Grass-fed Milk from Australia
The best Chocolates in the world
Excellent French and Spanish cheese
Peak season fruitsAdam’s Seriously Good Ice Cream advertisement
I started thinking about why this list on the company brochure was very important to use as the ad at their market stall. I realized that like in many places that have been colonies, or where much income comes from a foreign source, there may be a sense that foreign-made goods are better than locally made goods. I am not sure that this is a causal relationship, it may be correlational. It couldn’t be because there is no local chocolate (yes, the Philippines grows cacao) or no cheese (there is a cheese that local company Magnolia makes). There’s also local milk and local cream.
Maybe it’s the flavors and the processing. I have not seen displayed at the baker sections of the local grocers any cooking chocolate that’s locally made, but I have seen baking chocolate from overseas.
And, I have tasted the locally produced cheese and decided it is not something I would eat or cook with.
Also, the milk is mostly pasteurized and in tetra bricks, packaged for longevity on the shelf rather than freshness—a necessity in a country where things spoil from the temperatures quite easily, without refrigeration.
Technically I could have had the ice cream as a ‘dessert’ to breakfast, but alas I do not like sweet foods.
I headed away from the sweet stall and found at the far end of the market, a booth selling mulberry tea. The stall sold mulberry tea in packets, flavored with lemongrass or the fresh mulberry juice on ice in glass bottles.
I listened to the proprietor’s pitch about the health benefits of drinking mulberry juice and tea. A USDA list of vitamins and minerals from mulberry was referred to. The stall also had a booklet of people’s handwritten testimonials about how their intake of mulberry juice and the teas had benefited them from various ailments. It was a good pitch, and the tea was non-caffeine, so I bought a packet before leaving the market.
Walking back toward the entrance with the mulberry tea, I had to glance twice at a sign that said BUREK. Sure enough, there was a stall selling various unleavened breads (naan or pita) and a couple of types of burek, the Balkan pastry that I will not call Bosnian or Croatian or Serbian because I might offend someone if I do, and I have friends from all these countries.
The pastry is a pie made with flaky phyllo dough and, stuffed with cheese, meat or cheese-spinach filling.
Ah, now this I might have had for breakfast.
Maybe on another Sunday, I will.