26 July 2011

Pedicab Lighting Improvisation

Masbate is actually in Bicol, across the ocean from Samar.

Pedicabs are cheap in Samar (5 pesos or so). They are labeled "Masbate Bikes" and are painted in similar patterns, resembling calesas or sorbetes carts.

But the real treat is seeing them at night. The beautiful transformation occurs when riders attach lighting to the bikes after dark. Empty tin cans act as wind guards for lampfires, which are produced by recycled bottle gaseras (usually Lipovitan bottles), filled with kerosene and a dampened wick (some of them seemed like kapok fiber). Flickering lights and (slow) moving vehicles don't usually go together, so it's fun to sit back and watch while eating your oily street food of choice.

A tin can housing the lit wick of a Lipovitan bottle gasera.

The gasera is held up by another improvised aluminum part.

A parked bike, lit up.

19 July 2011

Bottle Bottoms And Vegetables

At a market stall, PET soda bottle bottoms, in which round vegetables are nestled.

17 July 2011

Samar Food

Kinunot-style shark. It tastes like crab, apparently.

As previously mentioned, mangroves serve as a mediator between two environments (land and water). The food in Samar is similar to what I've gathered used to be pre-urbanization food where I am from (Paranaque), also a mangrove area. Shark and stingray are popular, cooked in an adobo fashion, or kinunot-- with malunggay leaves in coconut milk, the same style in which the rare mega-mouth caught by Sorsogon fishermen was cooked.

Kinunot with peppers.

Small crabs and shrimp are used to flavor vegetable dishes, in place of what would be pork or smoked fish in other parts of the country. Moisture-loving fern or pako is popular.

Fern in coconut milk with shrimp.

Market vegetables-- fern, water kangkong, and yam tops.

Mud crabs are extremely common, as are brackish water shrimp. Communities along the mangroves cultivate these and sell them, walking around with pails of stuff, or dangling live crabs around like they weren't live crabs.

Mud crab tied with a nipa leaf.

Live shrimp for sale in a bucket of brackish water.

Dried fish is extremely popular and inexpensive. One of the cheapest is the espada or cigar wrasse, caught easily in rivers. There are "budget" plastic bags of dried fish available for only 1 peso, and these contain random salted fish assortments that are too small to be sold on their own.

Espada bracelet.

Espada swimming beside a restaurant. We fed them lots of rice.

And oh, the fermentation that transpires is great. Many people preserve their excess catch by fermenting them in brine. These pungent, umami elixirs are used to flavor everything, from soups to sautees. The larger fermented creatures are the convenience food of the region-- ready to eat little fish or mussels, with calamansi juice, and a cup of rice is not an uncommon meal.

Fermented rock oysters, and fermented fish intestines.

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