I’ve long been wanting to get to the weekend market at the FTI (Food Terminal Incorporated) in Taguig but with my sense of direction (or pitiful lack thereof) being what it is, it was always a pipe dream.
I finally find someone who knows how to get there and is willing to drive me one Saturday. I’m not disappointed. Unlike the other weekend markets that have a limited space, the AANI Weekend Market seems to sprawl with no end in sight. From the entrance, all I see are miles of flowers, clothes, and pirated DVDs ”“ no food. Like being in a tiangge (flea market) I wend and wind my way through the aisles, occasionally bumping into an avid shopper pulling along her overflowing mini cart.
I’m attracted to a stall selling Ann Taylor overruns and consider trying on a pair of pants but because I’ve given up shopping for Lent (yes, really) I move on.
Come with me on my market trip and let me show you those which caught my eye:
This is the first stall I see, an indicator that the food can’t be far behind. It’s a carinderia stuffed with people stuffing their mouths hungrily with bibingka, puto bumbong, pancit, and other “treat” foods people eat only on the weekends. I pass the “kucina” (kitchen) and hear the chief kucinero animatedly yelling out the orders. I chuckle.
I’m excited to see this egg stall, having just about given up on supermarket eggs that put me off with their pallid color and inconsistent quality. Being as fixated on eggs as I am, I’m prepared to pay a premium on eggs that are worthy of being called so.
I come thisclose to buying this plant, a grafted durian (montong variety) from Thailand. The stall owner says it’ll take four years before the tree grows big enough to bear fruit. I’m truly tickled at the thought of having a durian tree in my backyard, much to the ensuing dismay of my Bin if I had gone ahead and bought it.
In the center of the market are these thick meat curtains where I practically have to peer through the slabs of meat to be seen by the vendors.
I’ve gotten so used to packaged-in-plastic garlic from the supermarket that seeing fresh garlic with their stalks still on seems almost anomalous.
Fresh turmeric. A root that makes Indian and Malaysian dishes taste incredible but stains fingers and chopping boards a stubborn yellow.
I thought this was a tree stump (for sale!) but the vendor says it’s ube (purple yam).
Deboning bangus (milkfish), something I had to do in culinary school. Not an easy task, believe you me.
A woman selling sunglasses (!) and honey grabs my attention. The container holds some honeycombs immersed in the beautiful amber liquid. Very viscous, the honey initially smells like vinegar and then gives way to an aroma reminiscent of caramel cooked to a flowery muskiness. The honey smells and tastes wonderfully alive.
King of the buko hill.
Dried fish perfect with hot rice, a fried egg and a dipping sauce made of vinegar, soy sauce, and red finger chilies (siling labuyo).
Or fresh fish, if you prefer.
Cherry tomatoes that pop in the mouth.
I do my best to be environmentally conscious, preferring to carry a reusable Beansprout bag over plastic. But every time I buy something and tell the vendor that I’ll just pop it into my bag, I’m met with quizzical looks. One vendor even comes right out and asks, “Ba’t ayaw mo ng plastic, mam?” Ay! Sooner rather than later, I shut up and just throw my plastic-wrapped purchases into my over-all carry-all which is getting heavier by the minute.
These are mini mangoes, about a sixteenth of the regular sized mango seen above. I like peeling and popping one whole into my mouth, the flavor and sweetness trumpeting summer’s glories. The seed is about the size and width of half of a tongue depressor (for lack of a more apt comparison). There’s also a green “version” (below).
White corn, which is very difficult to find, costs P80/kilo. Stickier and chewier than the yellow variety, this is great grilled or cooked in chicken tinola (chicken soup) with malunggay leaves.
Eeew, ampalaya! (bitter gourd) Practically the only thing I won’t eat.
Beans and grains. I didn’t even know they came in these many colors locally.
Right before I leave the market, I buy my own “weekend treat food”: some turon (banana fritters) from a woman who’s making them on the spot and suman (rice cake) which is only P5 each!
AANI Weekend Market
Saturdays, 6am – 4pm