Dumaguete City Public Market
When Joseph and I were in Manila in January, I managed to find a cookbook called 7000 Islands: A Food Portrait of the Philippines by Australian-Filipina author Yasmin Newman. Within days of setting up our home here, I was trying new dishes such as pancit Bihon (thin rice noodles with chicken and vegetables in fish sauce and vinegar), Bicol express (pork in coconut milk with ginger and lots of chili peppers--I've discovered the small but powerful bird's-eye chili!), escabeche (sweet and sour fish), chicken adobo (my recipe calls for coconut milk, vinegar, and soy and fish sauces--there are many versions of adobo in Filipino cooking), green mango salad, and pancit Canton (egg noodles with chicken and vegetables in soy sauce and sesame oil). Last week I finally bought a small charcoal grill for about 180 pesos ($4.50) and made inasal nga manok (grilled chicken marinaded in vinegar, calamansi juice--a small native citrus that tastes somewhere between a lime and an orange--soy sauce and sugar). This last recipe came from Country Cooking: Philippine Regional Cuisines, by Michaela Fenix.
What's easiest about cooking here, besides the fact that I have the time to shop and prep for all this food, is the easy availability of all the ingredients for authentic Filipino cooking. While Dumaguete has supermarkets that carry most things a modern cook would need, I discovered early on that the best place to buy fresh produce is the city market. And everything costs a lot less there too. The market is a place teeming with life. Every time I go, I discover something new.