Market day in Santa Maria

Time to pick up makings for today’s lunch and dinner! A few minutes’ walk from my home is the palenque, the square where you can catch a bus, get a ride on a motorcycle or tricycle, or do your grocery shopping.

In Santa Maria A walk in the market.

bakeshop Here’s one of the many bakeshops. Filipinos have a big sweet tooth, and they love fresh-baked bread. Sweet bread makes a typical snack any time of day.

Fresh veggies Fresh vegetables

Market vendor The brown and yelow things stacked at right are two different kinds of uncooked noodles. the brightly colored things in front of her are foil packs of soy sauce and vinegar. You buy them in bags because of course you do. But it’s cheaper if you buy the small clear bags hanging overhead: she’s ordered big wholesale containers of oil and sauce and spices, and she’s packaged them up in convenient sizes you’ll use in cooking a single meal.

tuna These sleek, shiny fish are tuna. With a small cut behind the jaw, you can reach in a finger and hook the guts out; then use a stuff brush to scrub off the scales on the side. Now you can simply drop one of these in a skillet with a little oil till the skin is crispy on the outside, and the meat will be moist and tender and rich in flavor. Not at all “fishy,” and only distantly related to that Chicken of the Sea flavor you’re thinking of. Market dogs in the background hope for scraps.

fishMarket And here’s the big brother: this is a hunk from a big industrial-size tuna.

grouper This grouper is not quite dead yet! He kept flopping around on the counter, and had to be held still for his glamor shot.

kitchen Finally I’m home and ready to cook! Here you can see my butane burner and a sink (for either food prep or laundry). Behind the burner are oil, soy sauce, and a few cans of corned tuna, and some eggs and garlic. You can’t see the rice cooker, but it’s safe to assume there is one. At right is an emergency lamp – very useful during brownouts.

Kitchens here are not a social hub. Americans think of sitting in the kitchen having a cup of coffee, but here the kitchen is a simple food preparation area in back; social times and eating are in the front of the house.

St John parishioner Matrona wouldn’t let me pay for tonight’s tuna, so I’ve started the rice; now I’ll sign off so I can chop the vegetables and then fry up some fish for dinner!

Father Silouan

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