food! Where else in the world can you sample delectable and tempting delicacies
if not in the exotic country of Philippines. It is hardly surprising that
Filipino food is often labeled as somewhat strange but in its own way,
a unique mixture of eastern and western cuisine. After all, with nearly
400 years of outside influences, the Philippine cuisine is a fascinating
blend of Malay, Spanish and Chinese cultures. To the Filipinos, food is
important as it is an integral part of local art and culture as well as
surrounding Asian counterparts that uses hot chilies liberally in their
dishes, the Philippine cuisine is often labeled as bland and mild. This
made Filipino dishes more suitable for those with sedate and sensitive
taste buds. As with other Asian countries, rice is their staple food and
will be served with most meals. To the Filipinos, simple cooking means
fish of different sizes from the sea. They prefer their fish and other
seafood such as crabs, shrimps and shellfish to be as fresh as possible.
The freshness of the seafood is often complemented by sauces and spices.
In fact, seafood is appreciated at its best when left uncooked - in a
vinaigrette (kilawin) matrix, grilled (ihaw or inihaw),
and sometimes stuffed with onions wrapped in banana leaf.
It is no
secret that coconuts are used liberally in creating exotic Filipino dishes.
Cooking meat and vegetables using coconut milk create dishes called guinatan.
These dishes originated from the Malay side of the Filipino cuisine. Apart
from that, coconuts are also great for creating mouth-watering desserts
like bibingka (puddings made of ground rice, sugar and coconut
milk, baked in a clay oven, topped with fresh, salted duck eggs) and macapuno
(thick dessert jam).