Philippine Cuisine – Foods you have to try

As I have written in my very first post, I am in love with the foods that the Filipinos have to offer. Of course, there are some that I wouldn’t dare to try, even with a gun to my head, well, you get the idea. Most of the foods that I have eaten here so far have been great but there are some misses as well.

So far, I have been doing an all Filipino food diet and I have to say, if I don’t control myself, I’ll be even more overweight than I currently am. Having said that, it really is hard to control my appetite, especially when it comes to the rice. What I found is that the foods are so flavorful so you really need to pair it with rice to lessen the flavor somewhat and this makes me eat more than I would want.

I don’t know why but I just don’t get full at the same rate as I do when I am at home in Cali. Anyway, it’s not really a big deal for me as I can lose weight fairly easily due to an active lifestyle but if you are planning on visiting the Philippines and you don’t control your appetite, be prepared to gain weight and work hard to shed those pounds when you go home.

Foods that you should try

  • Kare Kare
kare kare

This is one of my favorites whenever I am visiting my friends’ house back home. Kare kare is a stew with peanut flavored sauce, ox tail, tripe, lots of veggies and it is served with shrimp paste on the side. The shrimp paste makes a lot of difference because the stew is kind of bland on its own. I have friends in the US that don’t like this particular dish but I really love it, an acquired taste perhaps?

  • Bulalo

The perfect meal when it’s cold outside. I just loved this one when I was in Tagaytay. The weather there is cold and this is just perfect, in fact, I think I ate one everyday I was there, enough said. This is basically a beef soup using beef shanks and when they cook it, they let it simmer until the bone marrow dissolves into the soup. The result is a melt in your mouth beef with a soup that is full of beef flavor. Pair it with rice and I’m pretty sure you will ask for seconds.

  • Tinolang Manok

A chicken soup that has a gingery flavor. I love ginger!

  • Lechon
lechon

When I was in Cebu, the first thing that I wanted to do was to eat lechon. It is a roast pig with crispy skin and tender meat. It did not disappoint. In fact, I wanted to hate it because it is so unhealthy for you but I just can’t.

  • Crispy Pata

Another roasted pork dish that I wanted to hate due to its unhealthiness but I just can’t. I loved it and it is very similar to the Lechon but with subtle differences. The skin is super crispy and flavorful.

  • Tapsilog

This is my go-to breakfast everyday. It’s basically a full meal that has marinated beef, eggs and garlic rice. They call the beef “tapa”, the rice “sinangag” and the tagalog word for eggs is “itlog”. The taste of the marinated beef differs from one restaurant to another, fortunately, they all taste good.

  • Sinigang
shrimp sinigang

Who doesn’t know about sinigang? I don’t think I need to describe this dish as most people will have already known about it by now. It’s best when the weather is cold but even when the weather is hot, I still had it. My favorite is the shrimp version.

  • Dried Fish and Squid

Another breakfast food that I had regularly is the the dried fish or dried squid. They serve it with garlic rice and egg and it’s very filling. It might be too salty for some but for me, I didn’t mind the saltiness.

  • Longganisa

There are many variations of longganisa in the Philippines. It’s their version of a sausage and I won’t even try defining each and every one of the versions that I had. One version that I really loved was the “vigan” one.

That’s all that I can think of right now and I’m sure I’ve left out plenty of delicious foods off this list. I’ll be back after trying other dishes.

Being Prepared

Traveling to a different country is very exciting but it can also lead to a lot of anxiety, especially if you are traveling alone or if it is your first time. Being excited and anxious at the same time can lead to being improperly prepared for your journey and this can cause a whole lot of problems.

The best thing you could do is be prepared and if it helps, create a list of things that you need to do, things you need to bring and research ahead of time regarding the place you are visiting. Having fun is important but being aware of your surroundings and being safe in a foreign country trumps that.

Tips Before Departing

  • Research ahead of time

As stated above, you should definitely learn about the country you are visiting and take note of places that you should not visit alone. Be aware of the weather situation in advance so you won’t have trouble with transportation. For example, go to the tourist site for the country you are visiting, in my case, the Philippines. Of course, these sites will not list all the places that are dangerous, in this case, it’s up to you to do some web research of your own.

  • Don’t bring unnecessary things

Traveling light is very important, at least to me. I don’t want to bring things that are unnecessary because the more you bring, the higher the chances of losing them, especially the valuable ones. The less you have on you, the easier your movement and you won’t be a target for potential theft.

  • Prepare all the necessary paperwork ASAP

Get all your paperwork done as soon as you can and make sure that it is accessible. Also, you can scan them and send them to your e-mail or take a picture so that you have a backup if ever you will need it.

Tips When You are There

  • Credit cards are recommended

When you carry loads of cash or even a debit card, you are just asking for trouble. Thus, my recommended way to access your money is via credit card and having a little emergency cash on hand. If you lose your money or debit card, it’s pretty much gone but with a credit card, you can alert your bank.

  • When withdrawing cash, choose ATMs that have security guards

This means that you shouldn’t use ATMs that are in remote areas and you should always go for ATMs in the banks, malls or other stores. This way, you can withdraw your cash without having to look over both your shoulders for potential robbers. Also, when you withdraw, count your money as fast as possible and put it away immediately.

  • Be aware when in crowds

A crowded area is very dangerous especially if you stick out like a sore thumb. Be aware and be wary of pickpockets. A good idea is to put your money in your front pocket as opposed to the back.

  • Ask the staff in your hotel for help with transportation

Don’t hail a taxi by yourself, chances are, you will be ripped off. Ask the staff to call you a cab instead as they can ensure that you will be paying a reasonable fare. Also, ask them ahead of time if there are areas that you should avoid.

That’s it for now. I hope that these tips will be helpful when you are out and about. Remember, common sense is a powerful thing, make sure to exercise it.

First Stop, the Philippines

One of the things that made me curious about Southeast Asia is realizing how much I don’t know about it. I’ve been living in California my whole life and I’ve had my share of encounters with people from this corner of the world and I didn’t really bother looking into their culture, until now.

Filipinos are everywhere!

My first stop is the Philippines in my tour of Southeast Asia. There are countless Filipinos where I live and I encounter them on a daily basis. I’ve managed to strike friendships with a lot of them and I must say, they are very “westernized”. Since I haven’t been to the Southeast Asian region, I thought that maybe the Filipinos in their country are “westernized” too and this would be very helpful in helping me get acclimated to the region.

Boy, was I wrong!

Filipinos are not as westernized as I thought they would be, especially in the provinces where I planned to spend most of my time in. They are very different from those that I encountered back home in LA and it is actually quite nice, surprisingly. I thought that I would be uncomfortable here but I was wrong, they are very welcoming and friendly despite the difference in culture and some communication problems.

In Metro Manila, yes, there are people that act all westernized and I found it kind of annoying to be honest. After a while, I wanted a genuine Philippine experience and I thought that I would not be getting it in the city. That’s when I decided to go to the provinces where I thought I could get the whole genuine Philippine experience.

The Food is…. Different

Another reason why I wanted to go to the Philippines is their cuisine. I loved eating adobo, sinigang and kare-kare whenever I would visit my Filipino friends home. However, they told me that their recipes are not really authentic and they are adjusted to the taste of Americans. If I really wanted to have an authentic Filipino dish, I should visit their country, they say.

And here I am, so far, the food is exceptional. I haven’t tasted it all but one of the recipes that I loved was the Bulalo I had in Tagaytay. It was almost a perfect food that can warm you and fill you up at the same time. I also loved the dipping sauce that had a funky smell, I think it was called “patis” or fish sauce as it is more commonly known.

I am loving it so far here in the Philippines and right now, I am in Cebu, making my way to Mindanao.