For many travelers, getting familiar with the food in the Philippines can be a challenge. That's not to say that typical western favorites, such as hamburgers and pizza aren't regularly available in some parts. It is more the traditional Philippines cuisine that seems so foreign at first. Travelers, however, might be interested to know that many of the popular Filipino dishes have their roots in American, Asian, Chinese, and Spanish cuisine. This has everything to do with the country's history, which has seen multiple cultures leave their imprints on the overall culture. While some of the food in the Philippines is popular countrywide, there are also dishes that are more regional. Some pretty surprising things tend to make the menu in different parts of the country, and you never know what you might happen upon while perusing the goods at a local market.
The Philippines cuisine doesn't have the best reputation in the West, and this has a lot to do with one certain food. Some might say that no visit to the Philippines would be complete without trying balut, which will be truly hard to approach for some. Balut consists of a boiled duck egg, and while that might not sound too bad, the fact that the embryo is almost completely developed is more than enough to turn most people off. Rock salt is often used to flavor balut, though that might not be enough to convince some to try it. If balut sounds bad, travelers will be happy to know that there are some other things worth trying while dining in the Philippines.
No discussion about Philippines cuisine would be a worthy one without mention of lechon, which is a dish that has its roots in Spain. Lechon, or roast suckling pig, is usually eaten on special occasions, and there is even a Philippines festival that celebrates this delectable dish. Upon first trying lechon, one is bound to agree that the tender meat and the crispy skin are worthy of a festival. In addition to lechon, a number of other popular dishes are offered with regularity at the restaurants in the Philippines. These dishes include longganisa, kare-kare, and the ubiquitous adobo. If one dish is most popular in the Philippines, it might be adobo as it can be found throughout the country. Adobo is nothing more than meat braised in a garlic and vinegar sauce, and it is delicious. Chicken and pork figure among the most commonly used meats when preparing adobo, though other meats can be used.
Longganisa is another dish that helps to make Philippines cuisine attractive for meat eaters. This Philippine version of chorizo is flavored with local spices, and various regions have their own special version. Pork is often the meat of choice when it comes to what's on the menu at the restaurants in the Philippines, though visitors with an affinity for trying new things might enjoy some oxtail. Kare-kare consists of oxtail and vegetables that are cooked in a savory peanut sauce, and it is often eaten during many a Filipino fiesta. As for some of the other dishes that are helping to put the country's cuisine on the map, they include pancit, which consists of stir-fried noodles, and lumpia, which is a type of fresh or fried spring roll.
Vegetarians will have a relative amount of trouble finding something good to eat when it comes to food in the Philippines, as many of the popular dishes are based around meat. As the dining scene continues to evolve, however, more and more vegetarian dishes are becoming available. For now, the reigning vegetarian dish is pinakbet, which incorporates pumpkin. The pumpkin is mixed with a range of vegetables, and other common additions include garlic, tomatoes, shrimp paste, coconut milk, ginger, and onions.
As one might imagine, Filipino people eat a lot of seafood. This is a country of islands, and the area waters offer up a verifiable bounty on a daily basis. Various kinds of prawns, shrimps, and fish are harvested in the Philippine waters. These waters also yield clams, mussels, crabs, and more. In the Philippines, fish is usually salted before being fried or deep fried. Often times, it is simply paired with vegetables and rice. For a different twist, visitors can try fish prepared in the sinigang style. Sinigang is essentially a soup or stew that is flavored with tamarind. The broth is noted for its sour flavor, which comes from the tamarind on most occasions. Other ingredients, such as guava, can also be used to create a sour effect.
The restaurants in the Philippines can be little more than a hole in the wall, while some come in the form of lavish, 5-star establishments. Some of the best restaurants in the country can be found at the country's luxury hotels and resorts, and visitors to Manila will have no shortage of good places to eat. The Metro Manila area is home to tons of excellent restaurants, some of the best of which take up residence in Makati City. When travelers aren't indulging in some haute cuisine at the more upscale restaurants in the Philippines, they can get some quick eats from a street cart or visit a local food market, such as the one in Vigan. The street carts and the food markets usually offer up the most interesting food in the Philippines.