From bustling Manila street food stalls to tranquil beachside eateries, the Philippines offers a rich tapestry of flavors and foods. Here’s a guide to navigating the delectable culinary landscape of the Philippines.
1. Experience the National Dish: Adobo
Adobo, considered the unofficial national dish of the Philippines, is a must-try for any food lover. It is a savory stew typically made with pork or chicken marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and spices. The result is a tender, tangy, and flavorful dish that perfectly represents the essence of Filipino cuisine.
2. Try Lechon: A Celebration Staple
Lechon, a whole roasted pig, is a spectacle in itself and a center of any celebration. It’s renowned for its crispy skin and juicy, flavorful meat. Cebu is particularly famous for its lechon, so make sure to give it a try if you’re in the area.
3. Taste the Street Food
Street food in the Philippines is an adventure for your taste buds. Try popular snacks like kwek-kwek (deep-fried quail eggs), balut (fertilized duck egg), and isaw (grilled pig or chicken intestines). Street food is best enjoyed with a cold bottle of local beer, like San Miguel.
4. Relish Seafood Delicacies
Being an archipelago, the Philippines is blessed with abundant seafood. Savor kinilaw (Filipino-style ceviche) or sinigang na hipon (shrimp in sour soup). Dampa markets in Manila offer fresh seafood that can be cooked to your liking right on the spot.
5. Discover Regional Variations
Filipino cuisine is heavily influenced by the country’s regional diversity. From the spicy Bicol Express of the Bicol region to the comforting La Paz Batchoy of Iloilo, each region offers a unique culinary experience. Explore the regional differences to truly appreciate Filipino cuisine.
6. Sample Filipino Desserts and Snacks
Filipino desserts and snacks, collectively called ‘kakanin’, are not to be missed. Try bibingka (rice cake cooked in banana leaves), halo-halo (a dessert made from mixed sweets and shaved ice), and leche flan (caramel custard).
7. Get Comfortable with Rice
Rice is the backbone of Filipino meals, often served with every dish, including breakfast. Don’t be surprised to see rice accompanying a wide variety of dishes.
8. Join a “Boodle Fight”
Experience a traditional ‘boodle fight,’ a communal dining style where food is spread out on banana leaves and everyone eats with their hands. It’s a fun, casual, and interactive way to share a meal.
9. Drink Local Beverages
Sip on local beverages like tuba (coconut wine), calamansi juice (made from a local citrus fruit), and salabat (ginger tea). They’re the perfect accompaniment to your meal or a refreshing pick-me-up in the tropical heat.
10. Respect Filipino Dining Etiquette
Lastly, when eating in the Philippines, remember to respect local dining etiquette. Filipinos appreciate good manners at the table. Saying ‘Kainan na’ (Let’s eat) before starting a meal is a common courtesy.
When exploring Filipino cuisine, be prepared for a delightful mix of tastes and traditions, filled with surprising contrasts and combinations. So, embrace the adventure and dive into the delicious world of Filipino food. Enjoy your food journey in the Philippines!