Monday, July 25, 2005

Organic Market

The Organic Market was teeming with fresh produce yesterday. I bought a big load of dalandan, some tomatoes, ampalaya and eggs. I went as early as 7:30 am to catch the sale of millet suman which sells out by 10:00 am. I bought 30 of these pricey sumans to give everyone in my household a taste! Suman, for those not in the know, is a mildly sweet, sticky, glutinous pudding wrapped and steamed in pandan leaves. Suman is usually made with rice and sometimes casava. It is Filipino street food brought to new and nutritious heights by Maribel Van Hoven who cooks and sells the millet suman or bud bud kabog at the Salcedo Market on Saturdays and the Legaspi Market on Sundays. Maribel is a big fan of millet because of its nutritional and culinary value. She wanted to promote the use of this tasty seed and make it a common household food, ultimately creating bud bud kabog. According to Vincent Van Hoven who does the actual selling for his wife (isn't that adorable?) the millet used in their suman grows wild in the mountains of Manguyod, Negros Occidental. The exact location is unknown. Once a week, a lone indigenous gatherer comes down from the mountains and sells the wild millet to the Van Hovens. The millet then travels by plane to Manila and is brought to Ayala Alabang to be cooked into a delicious suman by Maribel. Then the suman is brought to the weekend Markets in Makati. No wonder they're costly!

Afterwards, I went with Sister Rosalie to visit Dr. Carandang, a retired Dean of Agronomy in Los Banos, Laguna. He raises ducks and makes salted duck eggs as a hobby. The eggs were good. Not too salty, perfectly cooked and without the toxic red dye commonly used to distinguish salted chicken eggs from plain ones. Salted duck eggs are larger and have more yolk to whites ratio than salted chicken eggs. That's the way I like it. We were a given a tour of his private farm before going to his home for lunch where I met his lovely wife, daughter and grandchild. We were treated to a homecooked meal of Salted Egg Salad, Ubod Lumpia, Vegetable Sinigang and Shrimp Lumpia. For dessert we had Leche Flan made with duck eggs and fresh fruit from the garden. Yes, that's right I said fresh fruits from the garden. The Carandangs have the plumpest lakatan bananas I have ever seen which will be available in my farm next year thanks to the kindness and generosity of Dr. Carandang. They also have rambutan and atis trees growing in their backyard. What an idyllic life.

I then left Sister Rosalie and the charming Carandangs to go to the University of the Philippines, Los Banos DTRI (don't ask me what it stands for) to buy their famous milk, yogurt and carabao cheese. There was no cheese which was very disappointing. Lastly, I went to Herbana Farms to talk with Gil Carandang (no relation to Dr. Carandang), my organic farm landscaper, about my change of plans.

Plans on what to plant on my farm will have to change because the seeds I ordered will arrive in a month and a half. In the meantime, I will have to make use of what's available in the country. There are quite a number of conventional and hybrid seeds available but of course I cannot use. So I will be planting organic seedlings from organic farmers around Luzon. Corn, edamame, herbs, flowers and coffee are on the agenda. These organic produce will be available in two months together with fresh eggs and maybe some sprouts. Ok gotta go and have my breakfast of dalandan juice and bud bud kabog. Bon Apetit!

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