Sunday, March 29, 2009

Not For the Weak-Stomached

Most Filipinos know the newbie's rite here in Riyadh. A Filipino who lands for the first time in Riyadh is taken first and foremost to BATHA. Yes, just so you don't get culture shocked in the vast desert, you get to ride down homesickness lane via Batha, a Divisoria-like place where the Filipino community flock together on weekends. But even if it's familiar, Filipinos actually (unknowingly) get their ultimate dose of culture shock in this place (I won't tell why because hey, you gotta experience it too, y'know! ;P).

But as for me, a newbie here last May 2008, my first "initiation" was not Batha. My father took me to the Othaim Market. Not just the ordinary Othaim grocery market but the Othaim slaughterhouse near Batha. And we used the road where we get to pass beside the pugutan ng ulo square going to the slaughterhouse! Grrr... Heaven forbid, was my dad trying to intimidate me by bringing me there?!

Every Friday morning, the father goes to Othaim to have the freshest butchered part of a cow, or a lamb, or whatever fancies him. He usually goes for the innards for his fave soup - the pinapaitan. For a few weeks after my first time to Othaim, I get up half-heartedly to accompany him because that's our sort of bonding moment (sweet noh?! hehe). After a few trips to the slaughterhouse, I opted not to go. LOL! There were just too many guys, too many animals apart from the guys, hehe, too many spilled blood and dirty water, the stench and the filth... not to mention the fact that there were just too many muttawas in the place and so very few women. The reasons not to go are endless.

But then, I remembered, didn't I grow up going to the palengke in our little town? Besides, didn't someone once told me that if I really want to get to know more about the place where I'm in, I need to go to the local restaurants and the local markets... not the Westernized malls and parks? I feel like immersing myself more to this new place (as crazy as that may sound) so I still tag along with the father when he goes in Othaim. Like last's some photos I took discreetly.

Warning: The following photos will probably turn you into a vegetarian. Believe me, I already spared you from the more grotesque ones.

An innocent looking meat stall...

Until you see the carnage:

Feast your eyes

A huge liver waiting in all its glory at the side of the stall.

I swear I can feel these huge lungs breathe... until I get closer and saw the ruptured veins and cut arteries.
Okay, it's dead (stop being paranoid!).

Want to guess what this is?
Turn it around and you'll see the eyes and the ears.
(Some stalls even display it like it's one of those deer head's trophies in a hunter's den, argh!)

To us Ilocanos, this is known as the "labakara" (towelette) part of a cow, mainly used for the local delicacy pinapaitan.

More innards right in your face!
(Can you see those blood and animal juices oozing on the blocks of ice?! Oh, the vendor here is my dad's suki.)

Next up, the fish market...

One of the reasons, if not the only reason, why I go... shrimps galore!

Filipinos on the prowl for the freshest meat and veggies.

It wasn't that bad, really, but you know... if you have innards and butchered animals in front of you, it still feels weird and nauseating. It probably is better than most wet markets in the Philippines but it's still is an unfamiliar territory to the newbies.

Anyway, now you know where to go when you're looking for freshly-butchered meat and quality seafood. There's veggies and fruits there too to complete your ulam. Be cautious though, the place is slippery when wet (it's not a wet market for nothing).

Apart from the in-your-face butchered animals and the gross way they display them, Othaim has taken me aback because my first encounter with a muttawa happened here. Nevertheless, I still go there. What intimidation?! Nice try, dad. Heheh.

6 had something to say:

Nebz said...

Impressive shots! And a more impressive narration. Ikaw na nga ang taga-ulat ng kalagayan sa Saudi.

I'm an Ilokano but I never learned how to cook pinapaitan. Plus I hate innards. Plus oo nga, napansin ko d2 sa Saudi, talagang buo p ung goat at lamb na isinasabit sa mga stalls nila. Minsan nga tumutulo pa ang dugo at tsaka nakamulagat sa u ung mga nakatiwarik na karne.

Meron din kaming pinupuntahan sa bandang Eastern Province, ung bilihan ng isda. Sa bandang Qatif. Nakahilera lang sila sa basketball court and buyers purchase them by banyera. Pwede ring kilo-kilo pero mas mahal ng kaunti. Just the same, mas mura pa rin sya kesa dun sa presyo sa mga fish stalls sa Alkhobar.

Sundrenched said...

@Nebz: Thank you for the generous comments.
Yep, seeing the whole bodies of goats and lambs hung in their stalls is scary! Haha! Do they really have to show it that way?! Baka idemanda sila ng PETA! Hahaha!

I heard about that fish place in the Eastern Province. We were supposed to visit it after our trip to Al-Khobar but they said Qatif was quite far from where we were so nagkatamaran na. Hehe. Next time, next time.

Anonymous said...

Hi thanks for posting this! I love cooking and this gives me an idea where to find meats that we pinoy usually eats..although my search will only start by sept when i finally set foot in the land of the dessert...
btw, I love to bake as well, if you happen to know a store where i can find baking stuff. I will really appreciate it if you can blog it here. Im new fan of Pink Tarha!

Sundrenched said...

@anonymous: ngayon pa lang, iwe-welcome na kita sa land of the desert (and desserts, pwede rin, hehe). hmn, baking stuff? there's one baking store near us in Suleimania... will feature it when I find the courage to set foot on it. I'm not exactly a cook nor a baker (very much far from being one!!! hahaha!)

thanks for visiting our blog. come back often! :)

sugarcoated cynic said...

*faints because of all the blood*

Now I remember why I take my tocino as take-out. ^^

Anonymous said...

I like your blog, very witty and gives me great insights of the real life in Saudi. I live in Dhahran, just moved here recently. I discovered your blog in google while I was searching for stores that sell Abayas in Saudi. I browsed your site and I was hooked on it ever since. I just never had the nerve to post any comment not until now.
Thanks for all the advices and tips on how to live here. I hope I could be well adjusted here..:):)More Gurl Power to all of you

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