Anyone who has asked me in person about my big challenges living in Manila knows how I felt about the lack of quality fresh produce. Its not that the Philippines doesn’t produce quality fruits and vegetables, but it has the hardest time getting them into the city before they start to expire. Often we found produce flown in from Australia that was fresher — much more expensive — but fresher than anything grown just 6 hours north of Manila in cool, fertile Bagio.
So a important goal of the settling in process here in Kathmandu was to explore the produce available, learn what was seasonally available and figure out the best way to get some of it on our plates at home. So I asked my Didi what kinds of vegetable markets were available and to take me to the best one in the city.
When I got in the car with our driver he seemed a bit confused. He pointed at the plenitude of small fruit and vegetable shops, indicating to me that everything was available locally rather than driving what seemed to him a long way to the market. But I really wanted to see for myself if there was some kind of central market that offered clues to the best variety and freshness with produce in Kathmandu. It was a way to set expectations and to answer the question: What does produce look like when it first arrives in Kathmandu before its sat on the roadside for hours on end? Once I know about how things worked here, then I could set my expectations accordingly.
So off we went to the market. I really wasn’t sure if I had managed to communicate things properly, but was pleasantly surprised when, less than half an hour later, our driver turned our car into what was clearly a big produce market, Kalimati Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market to be precise.
So how does Kathmandu produce stack up against Manila’s? Considerably better, I’d say. Our local supermarket here is still inferior to the street market, but comes up with very fresh things occasionally. Also here the producers also come into the city and sell directly from their own blanket pitch on the pavement. I’ve seen some good looking produce around, not consistently, but its there. And of course, for me, the fact that vegetables feature on menus and the food here is pretty good is a good thing. Now I just have to find my chef’s hat once again and head back into the kitchen…. I’ll keep you posted on that one!