I first visited this small, inner city market on a steamy September morning. As we wandered through Salcedo Village, our taste buds were alerted to the joys in store by the delicious scents from numerous barbecues drifting through the humid air.
Salcedo market is set up every Saturday morning, between 7am and 2pm, in a car park on JP Leviste Street. It is a non-profit organization run by the Women of Bel Air Foundation, Inc. and it is always bustling. A throng of locals, expatriates and tourists flock around the stalls. Fresh vegetables, fruit, fish and flowers are interspersed with local and not-so-local snacks, dishes and delicacies: colourful Kapampangan suman, flavoured with mango, ubeand chocolate; Turkish baklava; pyramids of South African chutneys,
pasta sauces, and vinegars promise organic and homemade; an entire cow (‘Wholly Cow’) rotates grimly on a spit, already looking half chewed, and smelling heavenly. Filipino dishes, Indian curries, cakes and cookies, barbecued ribs, stuffed fish, organic vegetables, dried fish, skinned frogs, scarlet lobsters, silver eels, marinated balut…
On my first trip, new to the sounds and scents of Manila, I bravely ordered a chicken kebab and some double decker Japanese pancakes hot off the griddle, looking and tasting a lot like pikelets and filled with Nutella, white chocolate or jam.
Subsequent visits have made me braver, and I love exploring the myriad stalls, until I run out of arms to carry all the bags. And there are so many ready made meals to eat immediately or freeeze for a later date. One word of advice – well, two – “go early”. The heat from the various barbecues quickly joins forces with the heat of the day and becomes utterly sapping. The pack of cars idling in the neighbouring streets don’t helping either, but you’ll find it is well worth the effort.
Salcedo market began with barely twenty vendors in 2004. Today there are apparently around one hundred and sixty, and there is always something new to discover each time I go. This week I came home with a selection of suman, lasagnthree pots of herbs I can’t usually find in Manila (lemon balm, rosemary and sage), a dozen organic eggs, baklava with walnuts and some Chocolate Fire honeycomb bark, which is where we unexpectedly found ourselves when the heat got too debilitating!
For more information, see their website: http://salcedocommunitymarket.com/