A mild defense of Filipino food

jolly love

     When I have banana catsup, it has to be Jolly Love brand banana catsup.

     I sense that any Filipinos about to read this are curling their fingers into fists right now, ready to lash out at another denigration of their beloved food. Filipino food is much-maligned. I myself might have been doing the maligning about Filipino cuisine. I might have even said out loud that “Filipino cuisine” is a contradiction in terms. I might have also said that it’s the worst food in SE Asia.
     I’ve been too harsh. Without too much hunting around, you can find non-greasy adobo, tasty seafood, and world-class fruit. It helps that I’m not a picky eater, so if every time there are just a couple of the same good things to choose from, it’s OK. It bears mentioning that not once in 100+ meals did I ever get sick, and I ate at some very dicey places.
filipino breakfast


     My beef with Filipino restaurants is that they cook all the food in the morning and so breakfast is warm, lunch is lukewarm, and dinner cold. (Noodles anywhere at any temperature always taste like gargling salt water.) I like humble Filipino restaurants anyway; they have an ambiance I miss. People are sweet, and we can all sit together with our cold food and watch cockfights on TV.
     There’s always fast food—there’s ALWAYS fast food—but I never found it appetizing. (It’s funny that fast food places, even donut shops, commonly have armed guards.) USA is justifiably famous for being the king of junk food, but the Philippines has to be in the discussion. When I asked Filipinos what food they don’t like, some said, “Vegetables!” They’re also eating crazy things like liver cooked in blood, chicken feet (commonly called adidas—get it? Clever!) and intestines or congealed blood chunks on skewers cooked over a fire.
     When I was by myself, only once in one month of traveling around did I pay more than 100 pesos (43 pesos = $1) for a meal. Portions are tiny, but that’s a good thing in the broader scope of things. The exception to all my simple meals was in Davao where I had a friend who made sure I ate very well and every friend of hers was a master chef. I pounced on every one of them: “What kind of vinegar do you use in your adobo? What about pandan leaves in your rice? Galangal: friend or foe?” Any glamorous food below is from the Davao area.
kinilaw recipe

     A recipe for kinilaw, similar to ceviche, involving Sprite/7up. Don’t squeeze!

cdo street food

     Cagayan de Oro street food. Nice to have some semi-fresh food in the evenings, yet it still wasn’t warm.

durian cob

     Normally I’m not a durian fan. It’s too rich, like eating a flavored cube of butter, but I didn’t know how many durian varieties there are. My hosts insisted that D101 is the best, but we had Cob, and it was very smooth.


     Pakfry, the back of the tuna.

yuyu dessert

     I can lose the extra 20kg around my waist another time.


     Rambutans, 30 pesos (US 70 cents) a kilo.



adobo dog

     The Philippines has followed me home!

black sand feet

     Last photo.

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A mild defense of Filipino food — 9 Comments

  1. I tried some Filipino food in Macau. Me and Cez went to local restaurant and we were fed by two Filipino girls. They served us some nice eggs, fried rice and some donuts! So yummy and cheap. Hope to make it to the Philippines one day :).

  2. That sounds very Filipino! In Hong Kong every Sunday all the Filipinos get together at Statue Square and eat all their home-cooked food. I’m sure you can order some for the following week!
    Yes, it’s great, you will enjoy it, I think.

  3. c’mon kent, you’ve eaten in what we call carinderia, so it should be expected. (though there are a few that serve good food but that would be rare.) i must agree on vegetables, though. vegetarians will have a hard time looking for place to eat at, unless they dine in posh places, of course. but there are really good ones like in camarines sur.

  4. yeah provinces do not have restaurants except the very touristic ones.the fruits seem cheaper there than in cebu. probably the missing dog ‘adobo’ has became an adobo now. lol. some eats it here.

  5. Pingback: How to Spend Ten Miserable Days in the Philippines - TheDromomaniac.com

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