Philippine food culture is a reflection of the country’s complex past featured by three centuries of Spanish colonization and fifty years of the American rule. Moreover, it felt the influence of trade with China and Malaysia because the country was an important meal and trade route. In addition to it, Philippine cuisine was affected by its geographical location and climate. For this reason, Philippine cuisine is a mixture of three cultures – Spanish, Asian, and American – impacted by tropical and subtropical climate and sea proximity. However, it is what makes it even more fascinating.
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Philippine culture is a culture of festivals known as fiesta. One of the specificities of these festivals is that each city has its local fiestas. Together with the fact that the country comprises of more than 7,000 small islands, it means that every day is a fiesta somewhere across the state. Except for these local feasts, there is also one overall fiesta, which takes place on Christmas. Other spectacular festivals are flower fiestas, fruit harvest festivals, hot-air balloon festivals, masquerade feasts, animist and various religious and farmers fests (Festival guide to the 10 most awesome fiestas of the Philippines, 2014).
Philippine cuisine is rich with rice, fruit, fish, and seafood. However, because of the Spanish and American influence, meat, especially pork and chicken, are also served. That said, traditional dishes are sinigang, fish or shrimps with fruit, which best reflects the love for sour-sweet taste of food, adobo, pork or chicken cooked with garlic and vinegar, pancit, noodles with meat, fish, vegetables or any other ingredients, and lumpia, spring rolls with diverse fillings served either fried or fresh (Magat, 2002).
Primary cooking techniques include steaming, boiling, and frying for rice and vegetables, salting, drying and frying (both pan-frying and deep-frying) for fish and seafood, and frying for pork and chicken (“Philippine cuisine”, 2012). Because of such variety of cooking techniques used, the ways of eating and serving food also differ. However, what is common is that food is served with dipping sauces and is eaten with both forks and spoons, which are traditional for Western people, and fingers (Hamlett, n.d.). Dishes have a distinct tropical flavor because of a variety of tropical fruits and a sour-sweet taste. Main seasonings are soy sauce, vinegar, and fish sauce (“Philippine cuisine”, 2012).
The Philippines is a coffee-consuming country. That said, Filipinos traditionally serve and consume coffee, kape, with a great variety of desserts from rolls to cakes. Tea is not a popular beverage, even though there are some people, who prefer it to coffee because of growing health concerns and influence of caffeine on human organism. Except for coffee and tea, they also love different fruit drinks, especially served cold, such as fruit shakes and coconut juice. As of alcoholic beverages, beer, coconut vodka, tuba, and rice wine, tapuy, are common.
Climate and geographical location determine not only traditional dishes but also food items produces. That said, Philippine agricultural sector specializes in growing bananas, pineapples, rice, coconuts, maize, sugarcane, mangos, etc. (Country profile – the Philippines, 2012). In addition to it, Filipinos also grow pigs and fowl.
So, Philippines is a country of festivals and a diversity of traditional dishes and beverages. Even though primary ingredients are rice, seafood, and fruit, a great variety of cooking techniques makes the Filipino food culture rich, so that everyone can find what he or she loves.
Country profile – the Philippines. (2012). Web.
Hamlett, C. (n.d.) Food culture in the Philippines. Web.
Magat, M. C. (2002). Cuisine – Philippines. In K. Christensen & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of modern Asia (pp. 208-209). New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Philippine cuisine. (2012). Filipino Reporter, p. 38.