To market, to market...and a big Thank You

First of all, I would like to thank every one of you who has left such warm and kind comments on my last post, and who sent me emails full of virtual hugs and comforting words. Every comment and every email was greatly appreciated…and helped tremendously. I am stunned and amazed and touched and grateful that I have connected with such and incredible bunch of people…all because of this little blog. This cyber world we inhabit is truly a miracle.

Here is another thing that brings me comfort…

Going to the market is something I find therapeutic and soothing. Walking among cheery looking fruits and vegetables, peaceably lying together and patiently waiting for some shrewd marketer to snatch them up, is my idea (well, one of them at least) of perfect, cathartic, "me-time" (well, when I’m alone at least). Which is probably why I find myself, many a Saturday, crawling out of bed while C is still fast asleep, tossing on something decent (perhaps a big pair of sunglasses if Friday night was extra brisk), and making my way to our neighboring village market.

I have a whole routine which I take simple, almost childlike, pleasure in. I take my ratty pink market bag, which is really just a freebie I got from a bookstore. It’s the perfect size and water-proof and I love it (more so since it was freefreefree). I also take a small cooler which I leave in the car, just in case some interesting crustacean catches my eye. Or I am moved to buy some Wagyu beef. Or I need to replenish our longanisa stash – this market has a great variety of local sausages and I love trying them all. Or I get tempted by the fresh local cheeses. When I arrive, I stop by the stall selling freshly made piyaya first to get my breakfast. This flat, tart-like snack has a sticky-sweet filling of muscovado sugar inside a thin flaky crust. Hot of the griddle it is amazing, and a great way to start the day.

My own neighborhood’s market, albeit smaller, has just moved even closer to my flat. So that was a whole other excursion and another reason to put a smile on my face. They seem to have more purveyors now too.

As you can imagine, this season is beyond busy and these little escapes are very much welcome…and needed. No cooking to share, but here are some small bits of happiness that I picked up at my neighborhood markets.

I spotted the little carrots still with their stalks from a mile away. The photo doesn’t really capture it, but their stalks were lush beyond belief. Like the veggie version of those old-time shampoo commercials where the models swing impossibly luxuriant manes like matadors. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I snagged them without a second thought. I roasted them with onions and garlic and some Zamboanga sausage that we got on our trip there. I just tossed them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, added a bunch of parsley, and that was that.

My favorite herb/veg farmer pressed a bunch of greens in my hand while I was poking around his stall…"Wild arugula", he said. Oh yes. I am a huge arugula/rocket fan, and the arrival of wild arugula is always greeted with delight. He tore of a piece for me to taste (as he always does) and I was sold…it was everything I loved about arugula, but brighter and more pronounced, with more of a kick, “wilder” I suppose you could say, to make a bad pun of it what the hey. Unfortunately, although the leaves were bright green and sprightly, they had those holes in them veggies sometimes get (when attacked by little critters?). They tasted fantastic though so I threw caution to the wind and got myself a bunch. Aside from salads, this was surprisingly good in a chili con carne wrap that I had for days on end.

The peppers are from the same stall and something I have grown to love since being introduced to them. Of the capsicum family, they are smaller and have thinner skin then the regular red and green variety you see around. They also have a pleasant sweetness. The purveyor said they were "lipstick peppers", although I'm certain the cute name had anything to do with my attraction to them...oh no, not me. I’m sure they would be fabulous stuffed and baked, but I have yet to move on from having them in my scrambled eggs…which I am unabashedly loving. Another thing I am unabashedly loving are these plastic bowls and utensils (I’ve got plates and glasses too!) that I got from IKEA during a recent trip to Hong Kong. A good excuse to have a picnic I say.

I guess I am lucky that such simple things, like finding a nice bunch of carrots, make me happy…because it’s that much easier to get my thrills :) Alone time at the market has definitely been a solace over the past month. As has spending time with my family. As has all of your beautiful messages. As has the gentle, steady rhythm of stirring away at batch after batch of this year’s Christmas presents…but that’s for another post.

To everything and everyone who has made me smile…Thank you!