of course, not everything is still hopping or twitching at the market. many local specialties can be found, including a large variety of preserved and pickled items, from fruit and vegetables, to meat, fish and eggs, including the salted eggs pictured above (that photo is for oslo foodie, who will appreciate a fine display like that).
there is also a vendor who sells the only handmade fresh mozzarella i've seen in manila, along with several who have a nice supply of carabao (water buffalo) milk, and artisinal quesong puti, the local white semi-soft cheese made from carabao milk and wrapped in banana leaves.
soy items like tofu and taho are in abundance as well. however, the biggest draw to the market is the cooked and prepared foods, whether it be specific items or set meals. there are plenty of tables to enjoy your meals there, if you can't wait to take them home. although you can get everything from australian beef steaks to vietnamese spring rolls, the most prevalent items seem to be all manners of pork, and barbecued fish. next to the tofu, you'll see a man slicing up a log of swiss-style baked ham. i'm not sure what makes it swiss-style, can anyone enlighten me? it seems to be an omnipresent item these days.
lechon, or roasted pig, is always popular, and can be had by the kilo or in rice plates. there are also takeaway containers of lechon paksiw, which is chunks of tender pork meat stewed in a tangy, liver-enriched sauce.
the current trend in parties is to serve roast suckling pig as prichon (a contraction of prito + lechon for "fried pork"), where fried roasted pork meat and crackling is rolled in an eggy crepe with spring onions and hoisin sauce, not unlike how peking duck is served.
hito, or catfish on skewers.
grilled tuna jaw and blue marlin belly.
various meat items on sticks, and fish parts. mmmm. my descriptive power is deserting me. (hey did you notice in the previous photo that girl is grabbing her breasts? apparently my attention span is waning, too.)
i also rather happily found a man making and selling puto bumbong, a sweet rice cake that is normally found only during the holiday season. violet-hued glutinous rice (pirurutong) is soaked and ground, then dried and stuffed into tubes of bamboo that are set upright onto a steamer, and cooked until soft and fluffy.
it is then served with freshly grated coconut and muscovado sugar.
although the holiday season is usually heralded in the philippines by the horrific strains of christmas carols incessantly played on the radio from the first of september, i normally try to ignore it. however, with delicious holiday treat already in the marketplace, i'm starting to feel a bit festive.