Why some foreigners would rather go hungry than eat Filipino food

I love Filipino food!!! I never get tired of eating adobo. The taste is so primal because I just think it satisfies every human being’s craving for protein and salt – those two key ingredients that help keep our bodies from malfunctioning. For me, Adobo is one of those dishes that make you want to say, “I am so glad I am not vegetarian”. I like it especially when the pork and chicken have been fried to a crisp before mixing it back with the soy and vinegar sauce. We have adobo regularly and it is the default dish when everyone is too lazy to think of what to have for lunch or dinner.

For some greens, I like the bitter and sweet taste of pinakbet. Cooked right, the pumpkin melts in the mouth while the okra and eggplant is crunchy in light sauce mixed with bagoong (shrimp paste). I also like stir-fried kangkong (swamp cabbage) and ginataang gabi (taro) or laing, which my late mother’s best friend from Bicol used to cook for us whenever she drops by for a chat. Not everyone can cook laing with the same success as her in my opinion. I won’t even dare try cooking it myself because it is cooked in several stages the first of which is drying the taro leaves under the sun for a few days at least.

Filipino street food is something else also. I have to stop myself from eating too much balut lest I develop high-blood pressure. I don’t like the aborted duck fetus so much when the duck bones and little bits of feathers are already visible although sometimes when it’s dark or when I just close my eyes and not let my imagination go wild, the yuck factor goes away. Balut is very tasty, indeed but I wouldn’t force my overseas friends to eat it. I’d hate for them to throw up a good thing.

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Isaw: No germs can survive this grilling!

Isaw: No germs can survive this grilling!

Another street food that can be so addictive once you start munching on it is the isaw. It’s what we Filipinos call barbecued chicken innards. It’s so light and tasty that you end up eating more than the number of kilojoules allowed for the day. I have fond memories of eating isaw in Boracay Island before dinner while watching the sun set in the horizon. It’s just one of those little joys that we Filipinos love to do when we have time.

I can list all the Filipino dishes that I love but it could take me all week and if I enumerate all of them, this article might turn into a book. Besides, listing all of them is not really the point of this article.

Do you want to know why I love Filipino food? If I tell you it’s the best, which I won’t because I don’t think it is, you’ll probably think I am just being biased. I love Filipino food because I am Filipino. For me it is good because I got used to eating it from the moment I became capable of chewing solid foods when I was a toddler. Had my parents introduced me to eating monkey brain the way they serve it in China and Indonesia — raw and occasionally directly out of the dead monkey’s skull — perhaps I would crave it too. But because I didn’t grow up eating monkey brain, I find the thought of eating the “delicacy” appalling and gross.

Yes, I am well aware of the fact that some Filipino dishes are too salty, sweet, loaded with fat and overall unhealthy if taken in large quantities, which is why I do not eat too much of it. Lechon, anyone? I realize the danger of indulging too much in some Filipino dishes because I know a lot of people who developed kidney stones from eating too much salty Filipino food, particularly those flavored with alamang or shrimp paste. I also know someone who is a little bit on the plus size because she dips just about everything she eats in sugar carelessly.

Most Filipinos who go abroad would find other foreign dishes too bland and flavorless. I know some kababayans or Filipino travelers who think the famous British food Fish and Chips is unappetizing and depressing. Personally, I would only eat it when there’s nothing else to eat. I haven’t tried African food yet but I doubt it would appeal to me, something I decided after just watching them prepare it on one of those documentary shows on television.

Because the world is getting smaller and smaller, people from around the world are getting exposed to different kinds of food from overseas. Aside from Filipino food, I love eating Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, Swedish, Greek and Italian food. I can live without Indian food because I think it’s too spicy, oily and fattening.

Animal rights activists might find the sight of lechon offensive.

Animal rights activists might find the sight of lechon offensive.

This brings me to my point. Each society is different. People from different societies have different tastes. We all have been exposed to different ways of cooking our meals. I was told that some people from other societies do not like being reminded of where their food came from, which is why they fillet their fish instead of serving the whole thing, head and all, on the table. Furthermore, some societies prepare and flavor their meals depending on the available ingredients in their homeland. Historically, some societies have even gone to great lengths to put some precious spice for their meals by conquering other lands. Meanwhile, some societies make do with what little they have like salt for instance to preserve their catch of the day.

We cannot force people to love our food because they have been exposed to a different kind of food preparation regimen and their idea of what is edible and unhealthy is not the same as ours. In other words, people from different cultures have different standards. This applies to pretty much anything — including food.

The fact that Filipino restaurants overseas are not that popular with other cultures says a lot about our need to improve on it. We should also not feel offended, for example, when people criticize our food like how the young couple from Poland did when they blogged about their awful experience eating Filipino food while they were in the Philippines. We should see it as an opportunity to address where we get it wrong.

Eating out in the Philippines is an adventure!

Eating out in the Philippines is an adventure!

Some Filipinos who were angered by Agness Walewinder’s claim that “she would rather go hungry than eat Filipino food again” appeared too defensive. They seem incapable of putting themselves in other peoples’ shoes. In the first place, the bloggers from Poland wrote valid reasons why they got turned off with Filipino food. I personally would not eat the stuff they ate. The picture of the adobo in the article didn’t look like it was cooked the same way I like it cooked. I wouldn’t like that adobo as well. The roasted poultry looked a bit grotesque piled up on top of the stand. I wouldn’t eat them even if someone paid me either.

Most Filipinos who got upset by the honest assessment of the couple from Poland missed their point. In the Filipino people’s defense some said that the couple should not have stuck with buying their meals from cheap local stalls that cater to poor Filipinos. But I think that the couples’ point was, in a lot of societies, the quality of food being served to the poor folk is not so different to that served to those in the middle and upper classes. In some countries for example, when a poor guy orders a steak, he will get a steak in the same quality as when a middle-income earner orders a steak. In a true egalitarian society, a steak is a steak. Meaning, food is not prepared according to your social standing.

Basically, these Polish bloggers highlighted the country’s gaping social divide.

Coming from a more advanced society, it was hard for the Polish couple to comprehend that poor Filipinos have their own standards in food preparation. Evidently, hygiene is not a priority when it comes to handling food. Unfortunately, because there are so many poor people from the Philippines, most foreigners visiting the Philippines will more than likely encounter street food that will not be enticing to them.

My advice to the two Polish travelers and other foreigners travelling the Philippines is to expect that the quality of food to be a lot different when the meals are prepared using a higher standard. And my advice to my fellow Filipinos is to take criticisms from foreigners with a grain of salt.

[Photo of isaw, lechon, and karinderya courtesy LifeOutofOffice.com, Dude4Food, and TropicalVacationSpotsblog.com respectively.]

82 Replies to “Why some foreigners would rather go hungry than eat Filipino food”

  1. Ang pagkain pinoy, pagkain ng alipin. Yung mga itim sa Amerika, halos pareho ang pagkain nila sa atin. At ang pinag-iba lamang natin sa kanila ay tanggap nila na dito sila lumaki sampul ng inalipin sila ng mga puti. Yung mga matataba na parte ng baboy, bituka, tenga, ulo. Ito ang mga nilalaga nila. Kaya naman nagtatabaan sila. Tayo naman, tumataas ang ating cholesterol at kina-mamatay ng marami sa atin. Pareho lang tayo inalipin ng mga puti. Pareho lang tayo umasa sa mga tira at tapon nila. Dapat talikuran natin ang mga pagkain na ito at tularan ang mga lahi tulad ng Thai na hindi nakaranas ng pang-aalipin. Tingnan niyo ang pagkain nila, maraming kulay at lasa. Sariwang gulay, isda ang mga lahok. Huwag na tayo magtaka kung ayaw ng mga banyaga na kainin ang ating pagkain dahil tama sila na hindi ito dapat sa katawan nila.

        1. IDK Charley, U tell me, What is soooo healthy about ‘Cholard greens’ smothered in lard and fried?

    1. First Tagalog now our food. What’s with degrading anything Filipino?

      If anything the lesson here is that take criticism well and improve on the mistake..not quit altogether.

      1. Your point is well taken. This post by the thread starter should serve as an impetus to IMPROVE our cuisine, and not get detracted from the goal, which is to elevate it.

    2. The Filipino food is one note: sour, and more sour. How about sweet and sour or spicy and sour? Also, Filipino food is mostly fried and brown. Brown food is unattractive. Therefore, brown food needs to be offset by garnishes and colorful veggies, etc. to render it appealing. Also, as food is tied to the country, poor/bad cuisine is a reflection of the poverty of that country. This may seem like a generalization, but I think there’s some truth in it.

    3. because almost all filipinp cuisine uses salt w/c oz very bad for the health, cant cook without salt Anf are quite oily ( lsgong mslonsng ) la pko nbalitaan n filipino food niluto sa olive pil

  2. Pinoys really believe the world should be seen through the eyes of Pinoys. Which is a paradox because they depend so much on outside perception even if it’s an unknown commodity like Isreali X Factor. If that show picks some Pinay caregiver then suddenly that show is so important . Whatever happened to liking what you like. ? If Pinoys are truly the best then all you need is Pinoy shows and what they glorify . No need for anything international. But if the internal culture is so weak that the government has to embargo your free choice like the MMFF or what they are talking about now with foreign tv shows then Pinoy pride is a fallacy . Government is like a thirty year old dad fist fighting the 8 year old bully in the playground, what message is that sending his picked on son?

    1. I totally agree on what Gogs said. We Filipinos view things strictly in pinoy ways. We pride ourselves as the best race, but could not take criticism well. I love Pinoy foods, but I myself don’t eat balut. Therefore, I understand why foreigners wouldn’t eat it. Thing is, you can’t please everybody. I’ve been to Taiwan and have tasted their food. I swear to God, there is more to hate than there is to love. Probably because my tastebuds is not accustomed to their delicacy. Same goes to foreign visitors trying out our food. Their tastedbuds will go crazy when they try the bitter-sweet-bizarre taste of isaw, or balut. We just have to accept critism like a man and respect one’s opinion.

    2. I agree with Gogs and Lem about the defensiveness of Filipinos whenever anything remotely connected to their culture is criticized. Anyway, with regards to Filipino food, I always read how it was influenced by Chinese, Malaysian, and Spanish cuisines. Yet, it sorely pales in comparison to these top-notch cuisines’ flavors and ingredients! Why is that? Filipinos who defend their awful cuisine sell themselves short by refusing to see the obvious flaws in their dishes and to implement new ones to elevate the cuisine.

  3. Balut – I know some fellow Filipinos who would stay away from it. Unpatriotic? Nah, that’s stupid. But me, I eat it whether the chick is small or mature. I got accustomed to it.

  4. “You are, what you eat…”, they usually say. If you are open minded enough, to understand the history of the dish/menu/food offered to you in foreign countries. You would never be prejudicial on them. Filipino foods are too much fat; too much in cholesterol; too much in salts; too much in sugar. This is the reason , we have widespread: high blood pressures; diabetes; etc…

    Please adorn your food dishes, before offering them to foreign guest…it is not only the tastes, that they are looking. It is Also the PRESENTATION. Perhaps, you can offer an Ice Creame dish, in the form of Mayon Volcano. Then, explain about the Mayon volcano to a foreign guest. Or whatever good sights that we have in our country.

  5. I was actually going to mention the British fish and chips example you used, in other posts that have sprung up defending Filipino food this week. I’m British, and it’s a common joke that our food is unappetising, especially compared to neighbouring countries in Europe.

    Of course, as with any cuisine there are tasty dishes to be found too – but the famous ones are the bland and fattening ones. It’s a stereotype that we know, acknowledge and laugh about, both when talking to foreigners and on our own TV shows.

    I can’t think of any British people I know who would become enraged if someone insulted British food. We know how to laugh at ourselves.

    Compare this to the Filipino attitude when someone (in their low-key travel blog!) calls out this country’s food as one of the least notable in Asia, or highlights the lack of Filipino restaurants abroad. Blog posts like this one are the result.

    Is there any tradition of self-deprecating humour in this country at all? Can Filipinos laugh at themselves, or do they just leave that job for foreigners? Just accept you’re not going to win the food competition and focus on things you’re really good at, like…

    …someone help me out?

    1. Ilda, I have to apologise – I committed the sin of only reading half the article and assumed this was another hot-headed Pinoy Pride rant, but then in the second half you discussed the travel blog and its varied responses and I agree with your position.

      This debacle has brought out the worst in me! I guess because I’m in a similar situation to the Polish couple (backpacking for several years) so took their side a little too enthusiastically.

    2. The great harry ramsden will be rolling in his batter at the decline in quality.

      I look forward to agness’ forthcoming blogs

      ‘ i’d rather go deaf than hear filipino videoke’

      ‘I’d rather walk than ride a manila jeepney’

      ‘I’d rather be poked in the eye with a sharp stick than watch filipino tv’

      I’d rather have a pole in me, than have a filipino’

    3. Self deprecating ? This nation voted in a president who never did a thing in his life and is allergic to the three words I am sorry. Someone without an iota of accountability. This nation goes berserk over quasi Filipino contestants on shows you never heard of and use it as evidence as “taking over the world” . Self deprecating in a Filipino is as frequently found as road courtesy in a jeepney driver.

    4. Great comment and post…being Canadian with Scottish ancestry and growing up on more than well cooked beef,and not realising what tasty food tasted like til I left home and travelled abit…One of the Philippines best talents are the ability to copy-cat…can take a song from an American star and can mimmick it and make it sound almost exactly as well done in less than a week, but don’t like to copy-cat food from other countries and still serve bland disgusting looking food from left-overs from yesterdays disgusting left-overs….Anyways…forangs don’t go there for the great cuisine…they usually go there to get chased by the cash-starved young females..

    5. I totally understand where you’re coming from. The difference I think between the unappetizing cuisines of both Britain and the Philippines is the notion that if one eats British food, at least, it’s what the Queen and the mighty British people eat. Contrast that to Filipino food. It’s eaten by poor people, prepared by poor people, and forced upon the tourists by these poor, culinary-unimaginative people. One word you have to understand that describes Filipinos as you said it: PIKON.

  6. “By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.” -Oscar Wilde

    ignorance and journalism do not go together. it’s as simple as that. the scaremongering, condescension, and vitriol writing of that person is not worth the effort of any form of justification. consuming a satire of the subject is not the same as having a critical consciousness about the subject. the blogger probably took a page from the National Enquirer’s handbook of journalistic ethics.

  7. Your conclusion is the best advice. Racist white people do not think anything a non-white person does is good. I am in the USA and an African American who learned by experience that White people food is not prepared to taste good. Or they go to the extreme and add to much sugar and high fructose corn syrup to make their food palatable. The Western diet has caused the people of the world to explode with diabetes. The Filipino natural diet does not contribute to diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases.

    1. @ Charles, Sorry Charlie but you do not know what you are talking about. The ‘National’ dish of the filippines is called ‘adobo’ whose main ingredient is ‘soy-sauce’ which is one of the most un-healthy things a human can ingest. Sodium in the quadruple un-healthy #’s.Secondly Filipino’s fry almost all of the food they eat, which causes obesity. The Filippines also has a high instance of high blood pressure, which qualifies as a cardio-vascular disease
      and exactly WTF is ‘WHITE PEOPLE FOOD’? UH, would that be the opposite of ‘BLACK PEOPLE FOOD’?
      Your the racist dude…and, judging by the few posts of yours I’ve seen, an ignorant one at that.

      1. @ JT Jerzy

        Adobo is not necessarily prepared in one way (I think the traditional [?]) way is frying the meat before slathering it with soy sauce and vinegar). There are others who just choose to let the meat boil in soy sauce and vinegar, or prepare it with not too much soy sauce and vinegar, or choose leaner cuts of meat to make the dish at least a bit healthier. Aside from the soy sauce, adobo is flavored with pepper, onions + garlic, and maybe add any other vegetables you like such as potatoes and bell peppers, etc. You can turn any ingredient into adobo, and there are instances we even adobo veggies. Some even make adobo with coconut milk, or maybe liver and other savory parts. Adobo also has its regional varieties, the same as it is with sinigang/tinola/others I may not even know of (I lived in the Philippines my whole life and I haven’t eaten them all – that goes how varied Philippine regional cuisine is, like most cuisines that have specific culinary traditions in their own countries’ certain regions the world over). It’s always in the preparation of the food, and their taste preferences where an adobo can be prepared with a host of other ingredients such as sugar or MSG or any of those prepackaged wonder seasonings (and certainly ups the cholesterol danger levels infinitely higher) that makes a dish healthier or just begging for a heart attack. It’s the Filipinos’ comfort food, and we do like it salty/sweet, coming from a long line of cooking traditions we have adapted from our Malay ancestors + years of colonization from the Spaniards, the Americans and the Japanese + Chinese (as trading partners from the precolonial period) as well. It’s tasty, very convenient (you can cook large batches of adobo for fiestas/family outings and not worrying about it spoiling because of the vinegar put in there), and it does help (at least) in maintaining one’s energy throughout the day, especially so for the common Filipino laborer (all those carbohydrates giving them a boost in energy for their backbreaking labor day in and day out). Again, it IS comfort food, but (at least, depending again on the food preparation/choices of added ingredients), it’s the same as comfort food anywhere else on the planet. It’s meant to be “sinful”, it’s meant to be enjoyed, and who really cares. Just take wise portions of it and you’ll be fine (coupled with exercise).

        As for the other statement, yeah, Filipinos fry anything on hand – the usual prepared sweet/salty meats (like longganisa/tapa) and staple Western food (like bacon/hotdogs), sunny side ups/scrambled eggs, seafood/fish (salted or fresh), chicken, pork, beef, veggies, even rice. It’s the same thing as frying ANYTHING in the US, or any cooking culture that uses frying as one of their culinary techniques. It’s not only unique to Filipino cuisine. But we don’t only eat fried food all the time, we also like things stewed, grilled, raw, served as porridges/soups (you can only look at goto/arroz caldo and the sweet champorado), or even just simple pieces of bread/crackers soaked in coffee and we’re all set for any time of the day. Me, I’m fine with a piece of either stewed/fried fish + a “side dish”/accompaniment of diced red onions and tomatoes flavored with a tiny bit of salt, served on rice.

        Filipinos usually pull out all stops during fiestas, where the best food can be eaten (or any joyous occasion for that matter), and during times where they invite guests over to their houses. Pretty sure it’s the same thing for any culture who likes to celebrate momentous occasions with the food they love and are very proud of. It’s just unfortunate that the blogger who said she would rather die than eat any more Filipino food saw its “uglier” side (and looking at her blog post, was probably ripped off by the tourist guide she hired and she didn’t properly research – if any, she should at least know longganisa can’t be had at a 7 11 as it’s not something readily available at a convenience store or sari sari store; you need to buy it from a market and you need to cook it yourself. she went to the North and didn’t have the opportunity to eat Vigan longganisa – it’s more savory, more garlicky/sour and not at all sweet in comparison to ordinary longganisa). But hey, we lived eating spare animal parts/coagulated blood and have the opportunity to eat at roadside canteens at some point in our lives, so really, it’s just an acquired taste. Also, if you really know the vendor, and know that they prepared the food in safe conditions, then there’s really nothing to worry about. There’s a carinderia near our place which always has a lot of different patrons because the food is relatively cheap, tasty, always made fresh and made in clean surroundings, and the food could really pass off as something a Filipina homemaker could whip up in her kitchen (and my mom, who’s a pretty awesome and meticulous cook herself, approves of this place heartily). There are also spots in Metro Manila or provinces where you can buy all the fresh seafood from the market (plus all the fresh ingredients you may want) and have it prepared by cooks and eat it right there in their restaurant within the market premises itself.

        Just looking at how you seem to focus on Filipino fare with just adobo and frying, you don’t seem to know much about Filipino cuisine/diets either.

        As for Mr. Conley’s description, he probably meant the modern cuisine made by the Caucasians/whites as compared to the food he’s had growing up as an African-American in the US (and American cuisine also has its own rich and unique culinary history/influences – both white/African-American sides) and didn’t mean anything inflammatory about it – just an observation/opinion/an experience he has.

      2. @JT,

        The National Dish of the Philippines is “Lechon.”

        Soy Sauce is very healthy. If your so concern about the sodium content, just try to drink more water.

        Or, you can read this article:

        I agree with frying, but take in mind that frying is the more economical approach. It’s faster, cheaper, and your food will definitely last longer, that is why it is mostly preferred in cooking.

        Filipino food is not what you see in being offered in carinderya, or on a moving kart. Try to travel, do some research, and maybe you’ll come up with a better opinion to what Filipino food is. Go to Pampanga for starter, then travel up North.

        1. Aso or Dog meat is a popular in the Mountain Regions. It is not only the Philippines that eat dog meat, in Vietnam and other South East Asian Nations, Dog meat is considered a delicacy.

        2. @ Ken, Soy sauce is saturated with sodium and is one of the most unhealthy things a human can ingest. I stand by that remark as true, as stated.
          I have travelled extensively in the country and chicken feet are just not meant to be eaten, likewise chicken ‘intestines/gizzards’…the shit is gross.
          The pork dishes I’ve tasted are pretty good.I am not a big fan of pork, an animal that eats and rolls around in its own shit, so I am careful where I will entertain the idea of eating it.Trichinosis is no joke.
          One restaurant that I have learned to appreciate is the restaurant inside the ‘Dynasty Hotel’ in CDO. Just a great place to have a good dinner. Pinoy Shrimp salad, just awesome! Believe me, I know where to go to get a good dinner in the Philippines….and it ain’t ‘Aristocrat’ on Roxas Blvd.

        3. Yes, soy not only is loaded with sodium, but in recent years is often made from GMO soy beans so who really knows what you are eating? I also never eat lechon because it is not cooked long enough and I’m afraid of trichinosis. While I like many pork dishes as prepared by Filipinos; I never eat pork out because too much of the waste (gristle, fat and connective tissue) is left in pork because apparently Filipinos like to eat that stuff. When prepared in my house I trim the meat myself or my wife trims that stuff off.

          Many foods require some fat for taste be cooked in the food, but when that is the case I make sure to trim the fat in large pieces so it can be fished out and fed to cats, dogs, chickens or whatever other animal happens to be around. I had an outstanding shrimp dish in a resto named Tanthom’s in Tagaytay a couple weeks ago and I suggested that they might improve it by putting in some fresh pineapple chunks when cooking it…no idea if they have or will do such, but I’m a good cook and believe I know how to change recipes to improve them sometimes. Use local ingrediants and make good food.

        4. The Philippines is more than just Luzon. One tablespoon of soy sauce gives you 36% of the recommended amount of your daily salt intake. I can only stomach adobo about twice a year and is the only meat dish I actually use any sugar in. adobo is marinated before cooking, and not just fried and the soy and vinegar slathered on.

          My personal improvements to most adobo recipes is to add about a tablespoon of sugar to the marinade and when the meat is cooked (simmered in the marinade) I remove the meat and thicken the marinade with a corn starch/water mix and simmer until it gets thick like a gravy.

        5. Depends on where the soy sauce comes from.

          Lee Kum Kee is ok because it’s made from real soy beans. Filipino soy sauce is banned in the Middle East because it’s made mostly from artificial flavor and color. So much artificial color that it stains the bottle if you notice.

        1. @jt Jerzy

          Soy sauce is saturated with sodium and is one of the most unhealthy things a human can ingest. I stand by that remark as true, as stated. And you stand by that statement with utter ignorance. Do your research the fact is that soy sauce has much less sodium than salt but the same saltiness in flavor. Also it is loaded with antioxidants that salt doesn’t have. This is why overall the traditional Asian diet is healthier than the western one.

        2. @Jt Jerzy

          “Soy sauce is saturated with sodium and is one of the most unhealthy things a human can ingest. I stand by that remark as true, as stated.”

          And you stand by that statement with utter ignorance. Do your research the fact is that soy sauce has much less sodium than salt but the same saltiness in flavor. Also it is loaded with antioxidants that salt doesn’t have. This is why overall the traditional Asian diet is healthier than the western one.

        3. @Jt Jerzy

          “Soy sauce is saturated with sodium and is one of the most unhealthy things a human can ingest. I stand by that remark as true, as stated.”

          And you stand by that statement with utter ignorance. Do your damn research, the fact is that soy sauce has much less sodium than salt but the same saltiness in flavor. Also it is loaded with antioxidants that salt doesn’t have. This is why overall the traditional Asian diet is healthier than the western one.

  8. Dear Ms. Ilda,

    I am lost and confused by your latter statements. It seems, they contradict each other.

    Especially this statement makes me lost and confused (but also others):
    “And my advice to my fellow Filipinos is to take criticisms from foreigners with a grain of salt.”

    It would be very easy to translate your above statement into:

    “And my advice to my fellow Filipinos is to take criticisms from GRP bloggers with a grain of salt.”

    Does that make sense? I dont think so.

    1. I won’t speak for Ilda but I will speak as GRP blogger . Whenever I put pen to paper in the digital sense it is to say how I feel about a particular subject. Even though I might disagree with the majority I try to define as best I can why I disagree. You spend all that time putting it together then you get detractors who just make it personal. So what’s the point of having anything here resembling personal details? Just allow for perspective , which many Pinoys do not. Pinoys feel the world should see it their way or else the world is racist. Many many examples in my blog posts.

  9. “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are” – Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

    I personally avoid most modern “street” food in Manila, not only because I feel it is unhealthy and lacks imagination but because I suspect most vendors don’t practice proper handling, preparation and storage of the food items they sell. Whatever their reasons are, be it a lack of knowledge or a lack of pride in what they do, it feels unsafe to consume. Any food served at any price range should be prepared competently by someone trained and knowledgeable of food protection.

    Filipino cuisine needs the right people to help it develop, people passionate and knowledgeable about the food history and has a clear idea of what is truly Filipino cuisine or run the risk of fading into obscurity in this increasingly globalized food culture. I do not “love” Filipino cuisine, however there are Filipino dishes that I love like sisig, tinola and bicol express which are very common dishes and can be found in most Filipino restaurants but there are very few places in Manila that executes these dishes well in my opinion. What sets these places apart, I believe is the attention to detail in which they do their craft. Its very easy to notice all the little extra effort put into simple dishes like the three I mentioned, it may cost a little more, but I believe consumers should focus more on value instead of price.

    1. Agree 100% with your comments…but men go to the Philippines for the women…not the food…plain and simple..yes..the food sucks…but the women are fun and good nightlife..

      1. You generalize just a WEEEEEEEE bit now. Yes, I came to this country for a woman who has now been my wife for 10 years. If you get out of Jobbilee and find a lady who knows how to cook local food, much, in fact most of it is very tasty as long as you bypass the spaghetti and chicken parts that should be made into pig feed. Your lady (or you) need to trim the meat properly so you don’t get all the junk western butchers would trim off and discard though. If you can’t find a lady just go to any website that has pinoy recipes and you will find many that are outstanding.

  10. While I enjoy adobo and Giniling and Apritada, I steer away from many Filipino food favourites. As a Westerner, I find the overall ‘appearance’ unusually unappetizing. Filipino dishes in food courts for example is often grey, dark, greasy, and worrying to look at. Dishes made from pig blood and the use of every part of every creature make attacking a Filipino buffet somewhat of a nail biting experience. Chinese dishes, and Thai food by comparison, is bright, fresh and crisp looking. Vibrant colors, aromas, fresh peeled cucumber, carrot, spring onion accents to the side of bright delicious looking stir fry arrangements make your mouth water hence the overall popularity worldwide of Thai food. The flavors are always marvelous with the Thai and Chinese dishes because you know what you are eating.

    Internationally, Filipino restaurants are generally only ever frequented by Filipinos. The party standards……roast lechon, greasy fried rice, pancit, cold lumpia, chewy BBQ sticks, and spaghetti with chopped up hotdogs (preferably the red ones with red dye #7), cake with purple icing, are standard fare at almost every Filipino party or event, and is usually cheerfully consumed by all Nationalities, but overall the cuisine itself is loved by those who grew up with it.
    As a European friend once whispered to me walking in front of a food court display ‘whoever invented these dishes must have been awful hungry’! I had to agree!
    ChowKing, Greenwich, MacDonalds, KFC, JollyBee, and Pizza Hut are quickly becoming the preferred food of city folk, or at least those with the wherewithal, except for food courts where Filipinos sit slurping up indescribable dishes leaving the table a huge mess for others to clean up behind them, like in public spaces. Another Filipino curiosity.

    1. I agree with what you said. As much as it disappoints hearing this kind of critique, it must be accepted by Filipinos. If the country aims to make a reality of the tourism slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” they need to do something about the local cuisine and make it appealing for the tourists to want to try and eat.

  11. Well, the adobo I can live without. Soy sauce just grosses me out, what can I say? The pig on a spiker is eaten the world over and is usually excellent.

    Try it you might like it? Depends, on what you and ur tastebuds are used to.

    But try telling me that Durian is anything but fucking gross and I’ll tell you what……….YOU CAN HAVE MINE!

    To Me the quality of the food I eat counts, BIG TIME. The quality standards in the fils are just low as low gets, thusly I just don’t care for the food.

    and Filipino’s can not handle criticism, they just can’t. Why? IDK, but if they grew up where I grew up and got upset by the criticisms, they’d have been beaten into permanent un-happiness. Thick skin is grown and takes a li’l getting used to, kinda like filipino food.

    1. @JT Jerzy I know it’s Necroing but here we go.

      “Soy sauce just grosses me out, what can I say?”
      Did you know there are other cuisines that use Soy sauce, such as Japanese and Chinese.
      Do you dislike their dishes that are prepared with soy sauce, such as Sukiyaki, Mentsuyu, Kung Pao Chicken?

      “But try telling me that Durian is anything but fucking gross and I’ll tell you what……….YOU CAN HAVE MINE!”
      I personally dislike Durian. However did you know Durian is also eaten in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. etc.

  12. Some things I like and things I don’t like about Filipino cooking. Lots of Filipino food is very tasty if cooked and prepared properly. Both chicken and pork adobo can be very good. Under no circumstances do I ever eat pork out in restos or from street stalls because the cooks leave too much fat, connective tissue and other detritus in the meat before cooking it. When I use pork I make sure none of that stuff is present on the meat. If I feel the fat is necessary for the taste then it gets cut off in big chunks or pieces so it can be removed and fed to the dogs, cats or chickens.
    The fish selection here is excellent, although it would be nice to occasionally get a nice slab of cod, flounder or halibut. There are limitless ways to prepare fish and it would seem that Filipinos have learned them all. The only poor tasting fish found here are parrotfish and milkfish or bangus. It really baffles me why anybody eats either of those 2 species of fish when there are good tasting fish from which to choose. Among my favorite fish dishes is sweet & sour fried tilapia. Take any kind of mild fish and stuff it with a mix of onions, garlic and grated ginger with a bit of oyster sauce or bagoong before baking it in foil and you have something to die for.
    Mix the same ingredients and add some small Philippine tomatoes to a squid before baking it and your stuffed squid will also be great. For a change, once it has been baked you can remove the foil and grill it over charcoal.
    What is wrong with many Filipino dishes is the aforementioned connective tissue and trash left on meats when cooked. Many foods here are drenched in sugar and most of that sugar should just be left out of food. Sugar has NO place in bread, spaghetti or on most meats. One major problem here is the result of the poor quality of the beef. Because the cows have not been bred for meat and also poorly fed, the meat is stringy and tough requiring it to be cooked to death just in order to chew it. A steak should be tender and cooked no more than 3 or 4 minutes on a side and the juice coming out should be a pinkish brown.
    Chicken intestines and feet have no place on any meñu and should be ground into pig food, not served to people. It is also not necessary to color all kinds of BBQ with some kind of orange dye. That stuff offends the sensibilities of most people, as does the red dye put into canned meats and some hot dogs. That dye in canned beef does do us a service in that it turns the veins and other detritus pink so it can be easily seen and removed from the meat product.
    Another reason many western people don’t like a lot of Filipino food is because it is not served hot from the stove and is often left to sit where it reaches room or ambient temperature. Hot food should be served hot and not just allowed to reach ambient temperature. When food is left to sit like that in restos and street vendor stalls it can grow bacteria and become dangerous in short order so many western people will not eat such food.
    Lechon would be delicious if it were cooked longer because pork needs to be cooked half to death in order to always be safe from trichinosis but here it is never cooked long enough and I am afraid to eat it. In America I have cooked many a whole pig over charcoal and nobody would even consider eating it until it has cooked for at least 10 hours, and probably 12 hours or more. On occasion I get a slab of lechon in a public market, but I take it home and fry it in its own fat, or wrap it in foil and bake it before eating it.

    1. Have you ever tried daing na bangus? It’s bangus marinated in vinegar, pepper, crushed garlic and fried. You can then eat it as it is or have atchara ready to accompany it. It’s also awesome in sinigang. You can also stuff it with onions, tomatoes, salt, pepper, maybe drizzle it with calamansi before wrapping it in foil and grilling it over charcoal. I don’t like bangus that much either but only because of its thousands of fish bones (the meat is very delicious of course!). You can have it deboned by an expert fishmonger in the market though.

      Not all Filipinos love sugar on all their food. I’ve tasted a horribly saccharine kare kare and it offended my taste buds. I don’t like sweet viands generally, I leave out the raisins from afritada or embotido and gag on too sweet spaghetti sauce. Desserts though – bring it on! Sugar in everything here though is a culinary norm. Saying it should be left out because you feel it should is (at least I feel) like you whining about something that should be done because it doesn’t agree with you and you should be accommodated because you feel food should only be prepared in one distinct way. It’s almost akin to hating on a neighbor’s version of a lamb chop because the neighbor didn’t use the exact same ingredients you liked on one. The only meats I know drenched in syrups/sugar are some dishes like hamonado, and cured meats like tocino and added to flavor longganisa. The same thing is also observed about you dissing chicken feet and intestines. Chicken feet is appalling to me before, but I think it’s growing on me. I know it’s not for everyone, but saying that it’s only food fit for pigs and not for human consumption is a rather sweeping statement. Chicken feet is also a Chinese delicacy, in case you didn’t know.

      Have you also tried bulalo? You know, beef boiled for 4 -5 hours in a broth seasoned with salt, pepper and onions, leeks, etc. that by the time it’s cooked the meat falls off the bone? And eat the marrow from the bones – simply delicious (or if you eat the delicately flavored almost liquefied jelly marrow everyday, a direct invitation for a heart attack)! We’re really not a country of steak eaters, so what may be acceptable to you is basically unheard of or you know, could only be had in restaurants that serve authentic Western cuisine (and where they import their beef from countries made to suit steaks especially). Filipinos wouldn’t like to see blood on their meats either. We aren’t accustomed to eating meat with blood still in its packed meat fibers. Blood = not yet cooked thoroughly = dirty here.

      Food is generally hot and fresh enough and served straight from the stove. We Filipinos don’t like cold food either. We like it fresh and hot! You must understand that the food served in banquet restaurants/food stalls are pre-cooked in batches in anticipation of the customers – made fresh each day (and are reheated as soon as orders come in). Some of the more dishonest ones probably might reheat the leftovers and serve it the next day (I had a classmate back in college who experienced it and it was really horrifying to say the least). If we really don’t have any time to go home and prepare our own food, we’re fine just ordering at a local food stall (who we trust enough with their sanitary food preparation), but usually we want the food fresh made from scratch and made ourselves. Filipino food prepared the way they are in some Filipino restaurants/food stalls isn’t indicative of how Filipinos treat their food.

      It takes a lot of preparation to cook lechon – they just don’t kill a pig and skewer it through a bamboo pole and roast it until its done. It is thoroughly cleaned (even given a hot water bath to remove all its bristles/dirt and the insides are cleaned as well after all the innards are pulled out), prepared/stuffed with spices and other ingredients, and slowly roasted over charcoal until the meat is cooked juicy and tender with all the spices/ingredients’ flavors seeping in and the skin is crispy and crackly. That’s the way we prepare it here. It is generally safe to eat, but if it was prepared in unsanitary conditions, then you have an added bonus of getting sick because of eating lechon.

      1. This talk about sweet meats that shouldn’t be have not tasted Korean bbq, obviously. Sugar has its place in cooking, too. It just depends on what the dish is.

        I think the main elements that should be in food are: fresh ingredients, varying textures, layers of flavors that make your mouth water, aromatic ingredients that awaken your senses, and appetizing colors (e.g., red or green curries). These are elements that are lacking in Filipino food. Sad to say, when you watch Panlasangpinoy.com and other videos on YouTube, the ingredients are always the pretty much the same: soy, vinegar, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper. Yuck already! Be inventive, Filipinos! Step out of your comfort zone. Elevate the food!

      2. No amount of washing can kill the trichinosis worm. It can only be killed by cooking the meat to a certain internal temperature. Between 2002 and 2007, 11 cases were reported to CDC each year on average in the United States;[2] these were mostly the result of eating undercooked game, bear meat, or home-reared pigs. It is common in developing countries where meat fed to pigs is raw or undercooked, but many cases also come from developed countries in Europe and North America, where raw or undercooked pork and wild game may be consumed as delicacies http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trichinosis I have revised my opinion of sugar in meat after reading about Korean BBQ or bulgogi, which is outstanding, but there is not a ton of sugar in it, just a bit. Sugar has absolutely NO place in bread, spaghetti and many other foods served here in The PI.

        1. @Jerry
          “Sugar has absolutely NO place in bread”
          Then what are pastries?
          And don’t Japanese and Korean bakeries also serve different types of bread with sugar?
          And isn’t sugar a basic ingredient in making breads?

    1. The article is not entirely oriented on satire. It only shows that Pinoys must not be too butthurt on the evaluation of foreigners about our food. If I were on their shoes too, hinding hindi ko rin kakainin yung adobo na pinakita nila at yung Longganisang binili sa 7-11.

      Besides, food kasi ang unang pinapansin ng foreigners when they come here. Dapat talagang may regulation sa food quality ang lahat ng nagtitinda neto para magkaron man lang ng lasting impression ang mga dayuhan when it comes to our food.

      But no one can never eradicate the experience brought by inihaw foods to me. BBQ, anyone?

  13. What I can’t figure out is, why don’t Philippino’s eat taco’s? Living out in the municipality I have had tacos that have sugar in them or made with bannana ketchup sauce, man I get tired of sweets or those Swarma burito’s…horrible and where’s the salsa and corn chips…answer: Philippines does not sell corn flour, it’s owned by the Chinese and they don’t do corn flour, so not corn bread and no taco shells it’s all imported or sold at a price most business couldn’t afford.

    1. Schwarma is a Middle Eastern food and has been brought here, but I have seen the meat be cooked, left around all day and then stored unrefrigerated all night and put back on the tray for sale the next day.

    1. Hey, Thanks for the link, Chino! Goes to show street food is important to both locals and tourists. Which is why authorities should require higher standard on food handling on vendors on the streets.

    2. Ah yes those street foods from Europe. I already watched some of them on Street Food Around The World on National Geographic Channel and my mind just blown when I realized that the baguette that I sometimes buy on French Baker in which Filipinos think it’s a bakery and restaurant for rich people is actually a street food.

  14. Filipino food can be very salty and some dishes filled with sugar. I’ve been living here for 2 years and desperately miss my families Puerto Rican dishes. This is the order I would rate food by country, and yes i’m biased….

    1. Puerto Rican
    2. Thai
    3. Japanese
    4. Korean
    5. American (steak and potatoes)
    6. French
    7. Italian
    8. Mexican
    9. Cuban
    10. Filipino (just the bbq dishes, inihaw)

  15. Much as I like your other articles, this one comes across as a bit defensive. Certainly most people eat and enjoy whatever they’re brought up with, but they’re usually capable of enjoying other things too. The reason non-Filipinos don’t like the food is because it’s crap.

    Unlike most countries, which have the most astounding array of culinary offerings, the Phils seem to have only five basic ingredients – meat, rice, fish sauce, salt and sugar – which are only ever combined into the same half-dozen basic recipes.

    Also, most of the local cuisine isn’t even “native”. It’s full of trash imported from the US – again packed with salt, sugar and starch – that puts the country in the world top-ten for metabolic diseases.

    Poverty really has nothing to do with it. For one thing, a lot of “poor” Filipinos aren’t actually poor. I’ve met loads of people living in shithole shacks who own enough land to make them millionaires in the West. They simply have no clue how to realise value from it: even on a quarter-acre you can grow enough food for a family to live like a kings … if you know what you’re doing. It’s spiritual poverty that’s the problem here – a basic unwillingness to find out how to farm properly, and to get out there and do it.

    1. @Tony

      “Poverty really has nothing to do with it. For one thing, a lot of “poor” Filipinos aren’t actually poor. I’ve met loads of people living in shithole shacks who own enough land to make them millionaires in the West.”

      And there are many many more actual poor Filipinos who don’t fit that description. What an ignorant comment

    2. @Tony
      “only five basic ingredients – meat, rice, fish sauce, salt and sugar” It’s true that those are commonly used, but did you know Filipino cuisine also uses Saltwater Fish, Freshwater Fish, Squid, Crab, Clams, different kinds of Vegetables, different kinds of Tubers, Garlic, Onion, Pandan, Vinegar, Peppercorn, Anise, Bay Leaf, Chili, Ginger, Annatto, Tamarind, Coconut Milk, Tomato, and many more.
      Have you heard of the ff:
      – Lumpiang Ubod; which is made from Fresh coconut shoot (ubod), carrot (kerot), spring onions, jicama (singkamas), and lettuce enclosed in egg/flour wrapper
      – Ensalada, which is chopped mixed vegetables
      – Sinigang na Isda, Fish in Tamarind Soup
      – Kinilaw, which is like Ceviche
      – Ginataang Gulay, which is mixed vegetables cooked in Coconut Milk
      – Pakbet, which is mixed vegetables steamed in fish or shrimp sauce
      Those are just some that do not fall into the “meat, rice, fish sauce, salt and sugar – which are only ever combined into the same half-dozen basic recipes”
      Saying you don’t like [insert cuisine] is fine, but to say it’s all crap even without tasting 100% of what’s offered would simply be ignorant.
      That will be like a person saying Singaporean food is unhealthy even if they only got to eat Char Kway Teow.

  16. Its the condecending tone that what theFil. Got pissed. And poland dont gave advance society than Phil. I been in n

  17. Proud to be Pinoy!!! nuff said peeps. Sorry guys it’s a no brainer, Philippines is the best country in the world, take away the corrupted government and it’s paradise. Food wise, I have tasted Polish food, since I was with a Polish gf for 5 years and trust me their food does not even compare to Filipino food ;( Philippines in general is hated as a country cause we are blessed with resources and talented people. All these cuacasians and other races degrade Filipinos cause we do everything from our hearts and we excel at everything we do even though we have the least in material wealth. Filipinos have endured all these hates cause we are specially gifted in everything that is why all these other races put us down so we hate ourselves and they want to see us disunited. I believe our maharlikan blood seriously have some god given natural gift that other races know that’s why they are insecure of our great culture…

  18. Seriously, I had eaten and taste food from many countries, all the European, from other countries around I have already taste from Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Cuba , Athiopia, Egypt, Libanon, Turkish, China, Thailand, Japan, Philippines, and I’m pretty much sure that Greek Cuisine is the Best ????????
    Perhaps the most important thing to know about Greek food and Greek cuisine is that eating out and sharing the dinner is as important as the food itself. Greeks we even have a special word for this: paraia: a transcendence of the dinner table to include conversation, the view, ambiance and the overall spirit of place as Lawrence Durrell phrased it.
    While the main ingredients of Greek cooking are basic and few – olive oil, honey, yoghurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, lamb and fish – the manner in which they are prepared seems to have an endless variety and taste. There is also an additional delight, pretty much unique to Greece, of being invited into the kitchen to view the offerings and make your selection. There is as well a wonderful benefit that the Greek diet provides, whether you eat meat or are vegan: it is arguably the healthiest diet on the planet as well as user-friendly to those who want to eat well while not having to worry about putting on weight. ???? Do you want more proves? ????

  19. The lesson is – don’t be over-enthusiastic when one lets “westerners” try Filipino food. Most of them probably will get disappointed…except Anthony Bourdain.

    1. There is no doubt some good Filipino food, but the common fare served in the normal Filipino home or carenderia leaves a lot to be desired. Simply said, ADOBO SUCKS!!!

  20. The comment above says: “Animal rights activists might find the sight of lechon offensive.” I would rather say, “Any LIVING BEING (not ‘animal’) right activists might find dishing up living beings offensive.” – Grubs , sea/land insects, beetles, bats, man’s best friends (dogs), animal testicles and penises and their meats, defenceless duckling being boiled alive inside an egg (‘Baút) for the sake of hungry stomachs. It’s this far we’ve come.

  21. It tastes horrible because it is too sour, salty, oily, sweer or simply disgusting. No wonder why ine third of the population is overweight. When they try to cook foreign dishes, they are insulting it by adding weird ingredients. Sweet spaghettis. WTF. Even in “fancy” restaurants they use poor quality ingredients. Being an expat there, I lost so much weight. Most of people who praised peenoy cuisine are…filipinos. If you don’t agree with them, they will bully you…None of my fellow expat friends like the local cuisine.

  22. I’m a personal chef and I’m not a big fan of filipino food. Too much fat , friend, and salt. Also there is no garnishes. I have never looked at a filipino dish and went wow that looks like it tasted good lol. This is my least favorite cuisines of the world. I am Italian American and Italian food is way way better no comparison here. Also not really impressed with the flavors. Thai food is way better. Has more interesting flavors and colors going on at least.

  23. I would rather go hungry than eat food in the Philippine to avoid food poisining!!! I’m on my second week of vacation here and already landed in ER once and dealing with constant diarrhea that screws up the mood for many activities I was looking forward to. All this while not even once eating from the street.

    I have access to higher end restaurants at hotels but it seems the problem is pandemic with the logistics of food transfer and handling along each step of the process until the meal is on the plate. My 3 travel partners also suffered the same so it’s not a random case. And no matter how careful I am things still slip through the cracks. So I’m sticking to packaged oatmeals and snacks. No more cooked food at restaurants even if it was a 7 star hotel

    Health Authorities in the Philippines should get a grip on stricter food handling controls and raising awareness among locals in the restaurant industry.

  24. Filipino soy sauce is NOT real soy sauce its made from chemicals to give cancer.
    It is banned in my country and in other countries.

  25. I used to like adobo. I might still like pancit and lumpia. Idk. I had adobo a couple days ago. I just tasted the iron in the cooked off blood of the chicken and vinegar. Those two things are all you can taste adobo. The gross animal blood and vinegar taste. It was disgusting. It reminded me of the death of the animal I was eating. I thought I kinda liked Filipino food but the taste and the leftover smell reminded me of the Filipino street food restaurant a few blocks from here. It smells like fried blood.

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