Mornings in Ghent, Marketing, & Shakshuka *

Flea market near Sint-Jacob.

Flea market near Sint-Jacob.

Ghent, Belgium.

Ghent, Belgium.

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Morning Shakshuka glory.

Body Clock Shift
Mornings are fast-becoming my favorite time of the day. Maybe because the curtain slits provide a peek of a warm sunny day that makes for a good source of inertia to get out of bed in the summer. Or perhaps because winter is set to rise again soon as the winds get a bit more and more chilly, and I simply am not allowing myself to slumber my sunny days away. So I say both and more. Since I’ve been practically nocturnal all my life, my favorite part is discovering so much of what there is to love about mornings: fresh air, bright skies, birds nestled on the trees outside stretching and chirping, good morning greetings, early morning smiles, big morning hugs, understandable bad breaths, morning markets, breakfasts

One Sunday Market Morning
Markets are a thing here in Europe and what a wonderful place it is to be in. When I first arrived in Den Haag, visiting the big market in town was one of the first important tips older students at the ISS shared to us newbies. We were carefully instructed how to ride the trams with a rolling market bag in tow. Once, fellow Filipino student Emma and I were getting ready to get off the station closest to our dormitory. With a handful of buys from the market, we stood and walked towards the tram door ready to exit. To our surprise, the door did not open and the tram kept going! Looking apparently in panic, an older couple nearby looked at us, smiled and told us we should press the button on the side of the door. We laughed, got off the station after and walked two blocks instead of one to get to the dorm.

In Ghent, Belgium, there are all sorts of markets happening especially on weekends. There is the Flower Market where we took Yoyo’s parents when they came for a visit knowing they love gardening. The Book Market that springs by the canal Sunday and is close to one of our favorite bakeshops in town. The Groentenmarkt that I hardly recall ever visiting since I hardly shop on Fridays, the only day of the week it operates. There is also a huge flea market on Sundays just outside the Sint-Jacob Church called Brocante Sint Jacob. You can find all sorts of stuffs in this market, and lots of vintage on bargain. I’m familiar with Vrijdagmarkt but then again, I rarely do marketing on days it is open, which is on Friday morning and Saturday afternoon. However, the market we most frequently visit is open on Sundays and it is called the bird market or Oude Besteenmarkt. We come here mostly to buy eggs in bulk because they are way cheaper (more than half less the price!) than the eggs sold in supermarkets like Delhaize and Carrefour.

Below are some birds for sale in Oude Besteenmarkt. They are lovely to look at especially that marketing in Ghent seems like a weekly special occasion that everyone looks forward to attend. Why? Because if you come early enough, a full band bordering on orchestra plays right in the middle of the market where a stage is also set-up for the occasion. For reals!

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The Recipe: Shakshuka or Baked Egg Skillet with Vegetables
So with the missing egg ingredient found and bought at the bird market, we went home and I went straight to the kitchen excited to prepare a hearty Sunday brunch starring Shakshuka or Baked Egg Skillet with vegetables. I’ve searched more photos online and they all look so good, hence, the excitement. To my extra delight, it turned out to be very easy to make, too. (Well, if I make them they must be very easy!) So I beg you to try it yourself and get a taste of this awesome goodness for breakfast.

I got the recipe online and since it’s my first time to try out the recipe, I didn’t deviate much from the procedures, except using a pan first on the stove and then making the transfer to a baking pan before putting in the oven. It worked out fine so don’t worry if you don’t have a skillet or cast iron pans. Make the necessary adjustments according to what you have in your own kitchen. As in love and life (harhar), flexibility in the kitchen is key to having the most adventure and fun! Oh and we put bacons on top because we’re too flexible like that. Hehe. Here are the procedures I took from Scroll further down if you want to check out the ingredients first. Remember, flexibility is key!

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion (chopped finely)
1 small red pepper (chopped finely)
1/2 jalapeno (seeded, chopped finely)
2 garlic cloves (chopped finely)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
2 medium vine-ripe tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
2 large eggs

1.) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) In a medium oven-proof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, pepper and jalapeno, reduce heat to medium-low. Slowly cook onion mixture until soft, about 20 minutes (if it starts to brown, turn heat to low).
3.) Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a food processor or blender, and pulse 5 – 8 times until mostly broken up, but not purified, increase heat under skillet to medium-high.
4.) Add garlic and cook until garlic is soft, about 3 minutes.
5.) Add cumin & paprika and cook until it becomes fragrant, about 1 minute.
6.) Add tomatoes to the skillet. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to maintain simmer for 10 minutes, stir occasionally during the 10 minutes.
7.) Turn heat off and sprinkle parmesan over the mixture.
8.) Slowly crack eggs over the top of the skillet, making sure not to break the yolk.
9.) Place skillet in oven and cook for 7 – 8 minutes, or until whites of eggs are solid and yolks are still “wobbly”.
10.) Remove skillet from oven and serve (in skillet if possible).

C’est tout, that is all! See how simple yet yummy it is by trying it out yourself. Bon appetit!



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