Enjoying Food The Filipino Way
The Philippines is a country known for its sumptuous homemade delicacies and dishes, each one featuring ingredients unique to the place where it originated. The Ilocanos have their pinakbet, the Kapampangans have their sisig, and the Bicolanos have their Bicol express. What unifies all these distinct flavours and seasonings is the Filipinos’ love for good food.
Westerners may find our portions less than what they are used to back home, and Europeans may find weird our habit of using both fork and spoon at every meal, but there is certainly no denying that Filipino cuisine is one of the most palatable foods anywhere in the world.
Filipino families are bonded at the dinner table, where food is enjoyed and stories are exchanged. So if you ever find yourself Philippines-bound one of these days, be sure to take these tips to heart in order to get your fill of authentic Pinoy cooking:
Dunk it in dipping sauce.
Filipinos are fond of dipping their food into a variety of sauces and flavourings that differ in color, texture, and taste. There’s the ever-present soy sauce-calamnsi (that can be spiked with a few pieces of crushed chilli peppers), fish sauce (it does smell odd but it goes down really good), and vinegar with crushed garlic (best for barbecue). We love to layer flavor over flavor, hence the variety of dips and sauces that accompany every meal.
When in the Philippines, don’t be afraid to try something exotic for a change. Try our day-old chick, popularly known as balut, or the suspiciously black but surprisingly good dinuguan or blood stew. We take pride in turning the most banal ingredients into something totally mouth-watering.
Learn to Eat with your Hands.
The earliest Filipinos did not have metal forks and spoons to eat with, so they simply ate with their bare hands. Today, you will still see lots of Pinoys tucking into their food with fingers instead of utensils. It’s not a barbaric form of eating—it’s just simply one of the cultural curiosities that have survived centuries of colonization.
Surprise yourself with rice.
Pinoys eat rice for lunch, breakfast, and dinner. Sometimes we also have rice-based snacks in between full meals for that added boost of energy. There is an array of rice dishes you can try while you’re vacationing in the Philippines. Go for the kakanin, native delicacies that are made with different varieties of rice, such as biko, nilupak, puto bumbong or suman. Try the chocolate-flavored champorado and the Pinoy-style congee or lugaw.
Indulge your sweet tooth.
No meal is completely finished until you have taken a bite of something sweet. Take your pick from range of juicy tropical fruits like mangoes, coconut, bananas, watermelon, and pineapples. If you’re into non-fruit desserts, get the maja blanca, leche flan, halo-halo or macapuno. Each one is especially created to end a meal on a sweet note.