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The Theoretical Cook

A FOODY IN THE THIRD WORLD

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Cotabato Old Market

Markets are the place to go when you really want to see the life of the city. People have to eat- and they go to markets to buy food. In real local markets, there's this total lack of pretense. The ingredients come in ugly packages, the goods are dirt cheap, and there's this freshness in the products that can only come about when everything has to perish at the end of the day. Everything must go. The buyers haggle like crazy and everyone has this sense of purpose.

I went to the Old Market in Cotabato City today, driven partly by a memory of my not-so-recent visit: dirt cheap sea food and native chicken and strange cooking contraptions. The Old Market has now attained the secondary status of - well, the low-end market. Nevertheless, it remains The Afternoon market. Things start heating up in the afternoon, just when everything is beginning to wilt in the newer markets. There were many fabulous fruits in season: marang, durian, rambutan. There was a bounty of sea food too: shrimps, shells, fish, etc. I was all set to cook as the local ingredients in season would dictate: i thought, shell soup would be very nice, and fried fish, and shrimps, and maybe some seaweed salad.

SO I bought all these - and rambutan and marang too- for barely P200. Thats how cheap it is here. And I went to my grandparents' place and cooked everything.

Within an hour, I was eating a bountiful dinner with my cousins and grandfather. My grandfather said, it would be nice if all 'visitors' are like this.

I wish I could have cooked for my maternal granfather too. He's gone now. And my paternal grandfather has cancer too. So I was watching him eat what I cooked. He told me, I can't believe you're all grown up now. I told him I felt the same.

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