Our Food Tells Something About Our Society

Filipino butthurt again raged over an article titled “I would rather go hungry than eat Filipino food again,” where a tourist described her experience trying various types of Filipino food. The tourist’s opinions focused on some negative aspects (of course she would, she got sick), and that invited butthurt reactions from Filipino commenters. Many pointed out that the tourist was led to street food rather than proper Filipino restaurants. So the blogger was forced to change the title to “I would rather go hungry than eat Filipino STREET food again.” Which I believe was a sad cop-out to the pressure from butthurt commenters (considering that not everything she consumed was street food).

Philippine_Food

To quote Richard Gordon again, “The problem with Filipinos is we do not think; we just react.”

The raging Filipinos basically say: “don’t generalize us Filipinos because of our street food.”

But it’s futile to say that.

Because… what the title of this article says.

First, let’s understand that this person comes from a developed country. What they usually throw out to the trash grinders, we Filipinos turn into skewered roasts, or part of a stew – isaw, soup number 5 or mata ng baka (eye of the cow), anyone?

Next, I believe the assessment of the blogger was accurate in some points.

The Filipino cuisine embraces all the common elements of Asian cuisine – sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Ingredients commonly used include garlic, vinegar and soy sauce, all of which are used in chicken adobo – easily one of the most recognisable Filipino dishes.

I’d say this is mostly true. Nothing derogatory here.

What shocked us the most was the poor quality of food. Most of dishes were left on the table without being covered with a lid, or without a fan to get rid of the flies, as it’s a common practice in other Asian countries. Fish and meat were mixed up together in the same bowl, sausages were displayed on a plate surrounded by flies and bugs…

Go to most open markets, carinderias at the poor (squatter) areas or the talipapa, isn’t this what you see?

4 days of stomachache, dizziness and feeling overtired and bloated….

and diarrhea.

I know fellow Filipinos who experienced this after eating at a certain carinderia. Also, don’t we often get news of food poisoning, where a whole family died or something like that, every now and then?

Street food already tells a lot about our society, that we are a dysfunctional society. But it’s not just the nature of the food. It’s the conditions surrounding the food.

Firstly, some Filipino commenters on the article posit that the guides were probably hoodwinking the blogger. For example, the blogger did say that after asking about longganisa, they were given a hotdog sandwich from 7-11. OK, given that’s the case…. Is that what Filipinos do when foreigners are around? They hoodwink people? Can’t we have a matinong (decent) guide for these people? If we are going to have tourists, are we going to force them to have stomachaches, diarrhea and cholera? What’s that, the classic fault of “naghahanap ng karamay” (looking for someone to share the suffering with)?” Think about it – when a tourist comes in, the first food they are likely to see is the street food. Is that what we want to show them?

Secondly, the condition of people preparing our street food and other food highlights our poverty. As fellow blogger Paul Farol quoted from a friend, poverty porn is one of the marketing ploys of our country. It’s as if the country wants to highlight that it is poor – and wants to stay that way. Now food porn joins the mix. Food porn + poverty porn = food poverty porn (well, the blogger probably hasn’t seen pagpag yet).

As the blogger said, the food we eat often has oil, sugar and salt – because they are cheap and easy to prepare. Go to restaurants where you have safer food – they cost an arm and a leg. Sometimes, even the carinderias you expect to be clean might have their own hidden risks.

Of course, people need to sell food to earn a living. But at times, because of their poverty and lack of education, or even because of hard-headedness they are unable to provide proper sanitation for their products. Not to mention the types of recipes are high in fat and other substances that increase our risk for cardiac disease and other such illnesses.

Make no mistake, I still like our food. I also eat some street food. But food safety is certainly at risk here in the Philippines. For example, tap water is undrinkable because the illegal tapping by squatter areas soils the water supply. I’m sure that there are other cases… like the donations by other countries during Yolanda getting rotten because of non-distribution (and reportedly still getting sold in markets?). In the end, it’s just not the food itself. It’s how the people around it behave.

I wonder…. is the blogger’s observation one of the reasons for Filipino cuisine not being a big hit abroad, which some Filipinos lament?

Before reacting at another negative review of our food, it’s better to think first from that person’s point of view, and ask ourselves, it this what our food tells about us?

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About ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

Post Author: ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

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111 Comments on "Our Food Tells Something About Our Society"

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Vanyel
Guest
Butthurt Filipinos can’t take criticism. May point naman yung blogger eh, sa totoo lang marumi talaga ang mga pagkaing karinderia ni hindi natin alam kung paano nila ito prini-pare. Sa office lagi akong pinupuna ng ibang officemates ko kapag ang lunch ko inorder ko pa sa Jollibee or Chowking, kesyo ang sosyal ko daw, kesyo raw hindi healthy, bakit daw hindi ako gumaya sa kanila na masustansya at murang lutong-bahay ang kinakain (where in fact sa carinderia lang nila ito pinabili). No thanks. Hindi na baleng unhealthy ang fast food, alam ko naman na mas malinis pa rin yun kesa… Read more »
rodzen
Guest

That’s another story..

rodzen
Guest
She knows what she’s looking, why settle for what the worst of our country can offer her? Street foods can be defined as dirty and lesser dirty, malls do serve street foods too and they are less of an unhealthy as the blogger said but they insisted because that’s how they do this travel blogging thing, but in fact we as filipinos considered and know that eating street foods along streets with all the polution and the classification of people that preparing it was the most unlikely, unhealthy thing. I can offer her Taho, Nilagang Mais and Barbeque for a… Read more »
Jessica
Guest
I acknowledge that what those two bloggers experienced was unfortunate, but what enrages so many people is not that they had a bad experience but rather their illogical assumption. There are so many towns, provinces, and cities in the Philippines — we are a nation of 7,107 islands after all! And how many areas did these two travel to? From one I can tell from their vague and poor writing, only one. Or at least very few. Why should they then assume that the street food in those few areaa they went to define the entire country’s street food? I… Read more »
hellodean
Guest

thanks for that, jessica. you pretty much put to words my thoughts 🙂

Ryan
Guest

Agree and agree. The reason for the rant was the “illogical assumption”, plain and simple. And I hope this getrealphilippines site will take note of this and will not make the situation worse.

Jessica
Guest

I’d also like to add that they seemed to highlight getting ripped off in the Philippines, as if to say that the it only happens in the Philippines– and that is not the case. Perhaps it is the first time rhey experienced getting ripped off but jt is certainly not happening only in the Philippines. They have a right to complain about their experience here. But do it responsibly, at least. Don’t go creating overgeneralizations and misleading assumptions about your bad experiences.

Kath
Guest
As the blogger said, the food we eat often has oil, sugar and salt – because they are cheap and easy to prepare. Go to restaurants where you have safer food – they cost ANA ARM AND A LEG. Sometimes, even the carinderias you expect to be clean might have their own hidden risks. An Arm and A Leg? Seriously? Mind you, I’ve been to more than 10 tourist-friendly places in our country, and I can get a let’s say Pancit Habhab in Lucban, Quezon for only 50 pesos which is good for 4 persons already. I can get a… Read more »
Corinne
Guest

lol

The Filipino masa’s inability to take any form of criticism is laughable.

Relax, it’s just food. Food preferences are subjective. Why argue over the blogger’s experience of Filipino food? It’s HER experience.

KuyaBodgie
Guest

you’re missing a point here. Street food is NOT an authentic FILIPINO FOOD. The blogger generalized the Filipino food is bad where in fact she only ate street foods. Filipino culture is almost synonymous with their food therefore insulting our cuisine is also an insult to our culture.

Miss Call
Guest

Except for the fact that she did not just ate street food.

Corinne
Guest

Not every Filipino can afford “authentic” food from Antonio’s. lol. As I said, it’s just food and one person’s bad experience with it. Get a grip.

Darryl Wilson
Guest

There is no point being missed unless you step into her shoes. If she just came from other Southeast Asian countries, ate their street food and enjoyed it immensely without any internal digestion problems, can you blame her for drawing these conclusions of Filipino food? It’s not as if she came to this country hoping to be disappointed and perhaps when it comes to “cheaping out,” other countries in the region may offer better value and a better experience for foreigners.

iCare
Guest

Someone said our street food is pretty inferior to other south east Asian countries that are well travelled by foreigners. Maybe the fact that we don’t as many foreigner traffic, our street food wasn’t able to evolve.

Betelgeus
Guest
I’m sorry, but what? You’re telling me that one of the most accessible and populous hubs in Southeast Asia “don’t get as many foreigner traffic”? Maybe you should try to get out of your house a bit more often and visit the countless foreigner enclaves nearby. On the subject of this article, Philippine food is a funny case. Most of it is pretty mild which is very different from the rest of its neighbor’s cuisine which are heavy in spices and sauces. Also, with the heavy Spanish influence comes a lot of variations of already existing dishes. No wonder when… Read more »
iCare
Guest

I agree with Corinne.
I smell a lot of butthurt here.

Jack C
Guest
It’s a guilty pleasure to indulge in carinderia, local food places and street foods. It’s the exact same thing as the food places in Mexico, with questionable food prep and safety… yet people keep coming back to them because they’re delicious! The reason there are very few Filipino restaurants abroad is not because of food safety – it’s because there’s nobody making Filipino restaurants outside the country. Most Filipinos go overseas to work, and those who do business overseas would rarely (if ever) dabble into the highly competitive food business. The closest would be franchising something like Jollibee, but that’s… Read more »
Betelgeus
Guest
That’s the thing. Filipinos limit themselves to the home when it comes to making their food. It’s all fine and dandy when you’re just inviting friends and family, but word of mouth can only go so far. One of the fundamentals of establishing ethnic cuisine overseas is to develop a dedicated foreigner fanbase who delight in the food. When this group grows, other people would want to check to see what all the buzz is about. Modify the dishes to suit the country of origin’s palate is a plus. Don’t serve them unorthodox foods right off the bat until they’re… Read more »
libertas
Guest
The blogger is essentially right, filipino food regrettably ranks as one of the worst in the world – street food or otherwise. If you say to someone – ‘ how about a filipino tonight’ – it does not conjure up going out to eat! The reason has little to do with poverty. In so many countries i visit it was the poverty which drove the initial creativity to maximise variety and flavor from very basic choices and to experiment with ingredients. It seems more to do with a generic culture of laziness and lack of creativity which extends to the… Read more »
Dave
Guest
It’s natural that tourists want to try street food, regardless of whether they can afford to eat better – check out any travel forum or list of travel dos and don’ts, and you’ll see street food being praised as an essential part of the trip. People who avoid it are often labelled as snobs or not having an interest in local cultures. Unfortunately, this is where the Philippines fails, as many people (like me) who backpacked around the rest of South East Asia enjoying a mix of local food stalls and restaurants are shocked to see what passes for street… Read more »
Agness
Guest
Hi, I’m the author of this article. Thank you for the mention. I have noticed that Filipinos can’t take the criticism here. I’m referring to my bad experience with street food I tried in several Filipino cities and towns. I am not an ignorant traveler, but an experienced and respectful travel nomad who has been living and travelling in various Asian countries since 2011. I have tried a lot of different street dishes from Thailand to Sri Lanka and I felt disappointed with the Philippines cuisine the most. It’s my personal experience, but it seems like Filipinos hate everyone who… Read more »
libertas
Guest

Enjoy your travels as you go “into the wild”

The very predictable response just adds another dimension to “food being a window on society”

If congress was not on one of its many holidays they would discuss it over rice and booger king and consider you ‘persona non grata’!

One filipinos meat is a tourists nightmare

Gogs
Member
Welcome to the world of the Pinoy . Where they act in stereotypical fashion and look down on people who do not think and behave the way they do, Not the most literate or refined culture in the world or elsewhere. This is a place that defends drug mules but wanted to ban Justin Bieber for a meme in Instagram. Claire Danes gave an accurate description and they wanted to ban her too. Be yourself , be honest and be candid and ignore the people. They after all thought an unaccomplished man deserves to be their president solely because his… Read more »
libertas
Guest

A president whose favorite food is hot dogs and chinese take-away, who attends jollibee ribbon cutting ceremonies, and who can’t stand the heat of the kitchen but won’t leave, and who gets his kitchen cabinet to give maggot ridden food to typhoon survivors.
‘Let them eat leftovers – they are alive aren’t they’

Pnoy aquino is a peasant of the first order. Culture and cuisine is lost on such an ignoramus.

Chefs spit in his food, critics sh!t on his hypocricy, and women p!ss themselves laughing at his peculiarity.

Pnoy aquino is a recipe for disaster

Gogs
Member

“Oh! You said doggie BAG!”. – BSA III

Jack C
Guest

Pinoy pride makes it hard for us to take criticism, which is both a good and a bad thing – but at this point, it’s mostly a bad thing. I reckon you would have a better experience with homecooked meals instead, as I mentioned in a comment here but hey, I don’t have much to say against someone who’s been all over the world.

Ryan
Guest

And that would also be an eye opener for you. Street food in the Philippines is a no-no and never authentic. And what people are ranting is not about your bad experience but how you generalize the whole food cuisine and your illogical assumption.

Darryl Wilson
Guest

If Filipinos are going to get defensive and argue any time a tourist has an opinion, that will certainly drive people away. The number one rule in hospitality is that the customer is always right and never educate your guest.

Anne
Guest
Seriously girl ” i would rather go hungry than eat filipino streets food again! First, u only go to luzun right? i assumed u only tried streets foods in manila, not the entire streets foods in Philippines! So u made s stereotyped comments about filipino street foods in general, thats what were angered about, and about ur getting hurt about all the “”mean comments here? Well read what u write! Second, as the golden saying goes dont do to others what u dnt want others will do unto u..so whats the so much fuss about i was hurt? Shut the… Read more »
Gogs
Member

We love jejemon here in GRP. The vernacular of the intellectual elite.

Anne
Guest
Seriously girl ” i would rather go hungry than eat filipino streets food again! First, u only go to luzun right? i assumed u only tried streets foods in manila, not the entire streets foods in Philippines! So u made s stereotyped comments about filipino street foods in general, thats what were angry about, and being disappointed about all the “”mean comments here? Well read what u write! Second, as the golden saying goes dont do to others what u dnt want others will do unto u..so what the so much fuss about filipino cant take criticism? U started it… Read more »
domo
Guest

You jelly asshurt jejebiatch?

joeld
Guest
Philippine street food reflects just how the pinoy is. Cheap, quick and easy, convenient. This should be good if it doesn’t translate to “katamaran” – laziness. Which it does in fact. This is evident not only in street food. To change how the world sees the filipino dishes then a major change should be done first with the pinoy character. This would be reflected, later on, on their food, e. i. japanese food – attention to details. I cannot blame the author of the said article, as street food is really the gateway to a nation’s cuisine. A good starting… Read more »
Dirch
Guest

Ironic as it is, we filpinos actually take no pride in what we do (well, mostly low income businesses). Public transport is crap because people still ride it, communication companies provide the worst service with no competition and food of course, made with the cheapest ingredients just to earn an extra centavo. I read the comments and I don’t get why filipinos need to redeem ourselves like offering to treat them when they come back. It’s like we’re trying to protect an image. Folks, try living abroad and you’ll know, we don’t have any reputation to protect. So just chill.

Betelgeus
Guest

But I do have to concede that when it comes to desserts, Filipinos seem to have it mostly right especially the pastries. Yes, they’re still derived from the Spanish, but if you have a craving for anything mildly sweet then you really can’t go wrong with something like ensaymada or polvoron

Dirch
Guest

I share your opinion that those things taste great but it’s a familiarity thing. If we try to be objective about it, can they really compare with something like a panna cotta?

Betelgeuse
Guest

In essence, tastes are essentially subjective like opinions. Unless it’s literally inedible or poisonous, one can’t really trump over the other although I have to try that now that I’ve looked that up. The German Baumkuchen is another delicious dessert that sadly isn’t very popular in the Philippines.

Carlton
Guest
Lets compare the Philippines with one of your neighbours, Thailand. In 2013 Thailand was fortunate to get over 22 Million tourists visiting the country. This was despite the political instability that still continues. The Philippines in comparison received a paltry 4.6 Million in comparison in 2013. Why? Filipino food is without hesitation the worst food in the world – everything is fried in fat and is flavourless apart from the addition of sour vinegar! To the proud and patriotic Pinays that don’t like what I’ve just said, please take your head out of the sand and realise that its not… Read more »
Ryan
Guest

FYI. Food is NOT the major factor for the paltry tourism figures. The major factors are 1) Poor Infrastructure 2) Lack of direct flights 3) negative publicity/lack of awareness 4) Lack of government vision for tourism

Jose Antonio
Guest

Obviously, those folks where not trying to get the food listed on

http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/eat/40-delicious-filipino-dishes-157035

Instead, they are aiming for the street food. No, those on the CNN list are not mostly street food and would certainly cost more than the $25 budget they put on.

No offense taken on that blog, i know for one it was hoping to get a lot of traffic from us,lol. I just do not think street food is what traditional Filipino Food is.

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