Friday, March 1, 2013

Philippines, Palawan: Puerto Princesa Market

Regular visitors, and even irregular ones, to the Seoul Patch, know that food is one of my great loves, especially travel-wise. I always look for a cooking class of some kind wherever I travel. Despite my efforts, I was unable to find such a class in Puerto Princesa; I mentioned this desire and lack of success to the owner of Puerto Aventura Resort; some time later, unable to find such a class, Mr Ventura, the owner, came back to me with a solution.

Mr Arthur Ventura, I should point out here, is the retired Vice-Governor of Palawan, chairman of various committees and agencies of the local government, and a kind of mogul as owner of a dozen gas stations, several islands, farms, etc, etc. At age seventy-two, he is still active and engaged in improving life for Palawan natives, which includes tourist satisfaction. Art himself took me around for the three days I stayed at his resort--and wherever we went, everyone knew him, crowded around him, etc.

Anyway, unable to find a class, he undertook (as a chef and caterer himself) with his personal cook Ami, to demonstrate some Filipino cooking techniques for me. So, the next morning at 9 AM we went off to the Puerto Princesa market to gather some items for our cooking session: we wanted pork, chicken, fish, crabs, shrimps, fruits, vegetables and condiment items like garlic, shallots, kalamansi limes, etc.

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You will see lots of dried fish, as above, but not even close to the amount of fresh fish, as below:

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Strange Filipino seaweed, an explosion of snot in your mouth. Not really my thing.

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There are loads of fresh fruit and vegetables ...

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(virtually every stall has a massive slice of tree for the butcher block)

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...all of it legal as per the business license plates:

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... including prepared and packaged goods:

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One delight of the market (which I think is common to SE Asian cuisine) is sticky rice grilled in banana leaves, called here suman:

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Compared to, say, Dongdaemun market in Seoul, this is a pissant place; compared to Shillin market in Taipei it's a bit small; relative to Ben Thanh in Saigon it's crude; but considering that Puerto Princesa has about 200,000 inhabitants, this is an amazingly vibrant and real market, crowded and not one little bit touristy.

Once you leave the market, you have to make your way home. Palawan has not many taxis--mostly, those without their own transport use "tricycles", which are motorcycles to which covered sidecars have been welded. So--a bit like a Thai tuk-tuk, a Chinese motorized pedicab, etc:

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Each operator gives his tricycle a name; like say, Brenda, or Suzie or Zarathustra--God only knows where they get them from. If it doesn't have a name, it's a personal tricycle and not for hire. I looked for Tuttle, but never did see it. Oh well, maybe next time.

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What I love about the last pic above is the "Biochemist" store. If Jesus Heals, then why do we need a pharmacy?

1 comment:

Tanner Brown said...

Excellent. More on the cooking and time with Art, I hope.

And by the way, Jesus heals *through* pharmaceuticals.