The country’s tourism slogan, ‘It’s More Fun in the Philippines’ is attached to everything from carpools (think jeepneys) to chasing sunsets (insert Boracay beach pic here) and even to chocolate (as in the hills of Bohol, as in “chocolate” meat… get it???) But no concept warrants the tagline more so than the concept of eating. Here are 5 reasons why eating is more fun in the Philippines!
1. Food is a lifestyle.
If there’s one thing that’s been hardwired into every Filipino brain, it’s that we don’t eat to live… we live to eat! In a Filipino household, the dining table is a place of worship, laughter, friendship, and family. It’s our center of gravity. Our livelihoods revolve around the table. We adjust our schedules around mealtimes. If you ask any Filipino what room they spend the most time in at home, I bet they’ll either say the kitchen or dining area. And upon any first encounter with a Filipino, you will definitely be asked a revolving number of food-related inquiries such as, Are you hungry?, Have you eaten yet?, What do you want to eat,?… Why are you not hungry?! Go eat!!!
2. Our dishes are inventive.
The flavor profile for Filipino dishes is extraordinary and that’s because we like to take risks when it comes to pairing ingredients. Our dishes utilize strange combinations like sour green mangoes dipped in fermented shrimp paste (bagoong) or savory pork belly –the fattiest chunks you can find– cured in a sweet, tangy marinade made from brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and pineapple juice. Or how about boiled rice swimming in a sea of chocolate sauce for breakfast (champorado?) Yea, you read that right! You can start your day off with chocolate for breakfast in the Philippines! No judgements here! On the menu at NYC’s Maharlika, where Filipino cuisine has been updated for western eaters, you can find ube (purple yam) waffles with a dollop of bagoong-infused butter, caramelized macapuno (young coconut) syrup and fried chicken. All of these ingredients are recognizably 100% Filipino even though the recipe itself may not be. We Filipinos invite creativity into our kitchens!
3. Food is our love language.
Try following this logic – If food is life, and love is life, then food equals love. (Emoji translation: if 🍴=😊 and ❤️ =😊, then🍴=❤️.) In the Philippines, our foodways are symbolic of our great love for one another. We give food as presents. We eat together to commemorate happy occasions. We even welcome guests with food! For us Filipinos, we share food because we care. It’s a gesture of hospitality and goodwill. My mom proved how much she loved me when she spent almost a week handrolling 300 pieces of lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) for my college graduation, which disappeared in less than an hour after hitting the table. Filipino food, at its best, is always a labor of love. And truly, there’s no sight more endearing than watching Filipinos cook together. In the event of any major milestone, family friends would come over in droves to help prepare for the feast. The sounds of laughter accompany visions of my titos and titas in their borrowed aprons acting as extensions of my grandmother and mother, chopping, stirring, frying, and doing whatever else was asked of them. Food brings people together ❤️.
4. Eating is playful.
Filipino cuisine is not a sophisticated cuisine by any stretch of the imagination. Its gastronomy is rooted in the home and continues to be comfort food, not food for the masses. Maybe it’s the “comfort” factor, but Filipinos are not afraid to let loose when it comes to dining. Imagine a glass of crushed ice. Now throw in some purple yam spread, red beans, coconut gelatin, jackfruit, leche flan and condensed milk. Boom! You got the famous halo-halo, which literally translates to “mix-mix.” It’s like a party in a cup! When we eat kamayan-style, we eat with our bare hands — sans utensils. Its less barbaric than it sounds and is probably one of the most memorably dining experiences you could ever participate in. And our cheekiness shows in the names of street food. Barbecued chicken feet have been christened ‘Adidas’ as they bear an uncanny resemblance to the shoe brand’s logo. Skewered chicken intestines are lovingly called ‘IUDs’. And don’t forget ‘The Walkman,’ aka grilled pig ears. Eating for us is a lively, animated affair almost akin to a sporting event. We cheer each other on, strategically assess what dish to dig into first, and cry when it’s all over. If you’re not enjoying yourself to the fullest when eating, you’re not doing it right.
Jollibee, the only fast food establishment in the world that out-competes McDonalds in the local markets, looks like a play place more than a fast food joint
5. When it comes to food, the more the merrier!
Part of the fun of eating Filipino is that there is plenty of food to go around! The overabundance of food at Filipino gatherings alludes to the generous nature of Filipinos. In order to make sure everyone eats well and “feels the love” so-to- speak, we don’t skimp on our servings. Second helpings, third helpings… the sky’s the limit at a Filipino feast! Don’t even utter the words “portion-control.” It’s strictly forbidden. Same goes with “dieting.” A Filipino feast is a pageantry of excess. Usually, you’ll find multiple variations of appetizers, entrees, desserts, and even rice dishes! We Filipinos have a lifetime of experience devouring mass quantities of everything and anything. And we always make sure to leave room for dessert.