Have you ever gone on a food trip with your family or friends? How was it? Perhaps you’ve tried the usual street foods or went on an all-out eat-out session and even went to get full meal courses. Whatever that may be, there’s a big chance you’ve eaten Filipino foods along the way. There are lots of varieties to have, they’re usually accessible, and you can’t get enough of it. Why is Filipino food irresistible to begin with? Read on to know more about this.
Variety of Flavors
In fact, even a single dish can have numerous varieties per region. Think about the ever-famous adobo. It’s basically a combination of meat, soy sauce, and vinegar but other regions found it interesting enough to add and modify some ingredients to suit their liking. While sometimes a source of heated debates, it can also make for great topics to further help you expand your knowledge on the other person’s thoughts about the dish and more.
Some of the aspects that affect the variety of flavors despite serving similar dishes include the following:
- Available ingredients
Rich Cultural Background
Aside from appreciating where your food came from, you can take pride in the story behind the creation of certain dishes. It may even do for a great conversation starter on your next reunions, if you’re the storytelling type of person.
Some Filipino food ideas were “invented” because of the need to maximize the use of the ingredients (leche flan is not exactly a Filipino dish but its involvement in the Philippine history and households is interesting enough to be appreciated). On the other hand, some dishes and even drinks are created out of necessity for a successful trade with other people coming from the other countries. In the process, we also acquired some of their “food antics” and incorporated these in our daily cooking spree.
Spice is Life
May it be simply aromatics or a crucial addition that differentiates the dish from another, spices are important aspects that you can almost always find in Filipino dishes. Just like any other dish from another part of the world, spices breathe life into the dishes and make them interesting without the added burden of increasing the sodium content of the food.
This is also one of the factors that lead to the variety of dishes in different regions. Each region may only have a set of spices that are readily available in their area that may be different from their neighboring peers.
Filipino dishes in the typical household commonly lack food presentation because they do not mind it (may be a cultural thing), there’s not much to change when it comes to food arrangement, or they simply don’t have the time and luxury for it. However, most of the family members’ taste preferences are taken into consideration when it comes to the actual food preparation.
If someone in the family doesn’t like spicy food but you are cooking up something hot, you usually set aside a portion or two before you add the spicy ingredients. In case a family member is restricted from eating salty food, that is also taken into consideration and the person is reserved with at least a serving of undersalted food. It’s part of being thoughtful and hospitable through cooking and serving food. A love language (act of service), if you may.
Filipinos are so fond of incorporating dips along with the dishes. In other words, sawsawan. These seemingly insignificant table additions are actually practical if the household members have different preferences when it comes to having spicy, salty, or even sweet food. In some cases, even the texture is altered (if you remember dipping your pan de sal in some hot chocolate, that counts).
Your friend doesn’t want spice in their food but so love anything spicy? Prepare a sawsawan with crushed sili and you’re good to go. Want to have a level up of the lumpiang shanghai but still have some variety? Prepare different dips, such as ketchup, sweet and sour sauce, and even some mayonnaise.
Food pairing is another way that Filipinos get to personalize their food while sharing similar dishes with people sitting on the same table. Tuyo and champorado is a classic hit. If you’re not particularly fond of one of these, you may just opt to eat one of them and maybe share the other with the person sitting beside you.
Rice Makes for a Game Changer
Whatever the varieties in dishes there are per region, rice seems to be the ultimate staple and equalizer. You can never go wrong with a bowl full of hot white rice paired with your family’s specialty dish. More often than not, it will strongly remind you of home, not to mention the hearty talks and banters you have with each member while sharing the food.
Rice is also a great staple in the Filipino dining table because of its starchy quality. This trait makes it easier to be paired with dishes with deep and rich flavors, thus balancing out the overall taste once you consume it. So if ever you cooked up your usual dishes a little saltier than you would like, don’t worry as rice can help balance out this slight problem.
Aside from these, rice is versatile so it can be prepared and served in many different ways apart from being steamed. Just think about the many ways that stir-fried white rice is prepared with a wide variety of meat, veggies, and egg and you’re bound to get your cooking creativity going from one place to another. Some of the younger peeps even go as far as creating their own versions of fried ice that you have never heard of before.
Familiarity with a Touch of Uniqueness
Some people are not exactly fond of Filipino food because these foods are usually passed off as exotic, weird, and even disgusting at some point. Case in point: balut. Sure, it’s something uncommon to other people from other countries, but it’s not the only food we have in the country. In fact, it hardly even touches the surface of the diversity when it comes to the gastronomy department.
For instance, pansit has different varieties that different people from different walks of life can truly enjoy. Just like ramen, it can be prepared using varying types of noodles with different configurations and thicknesses. The other ingredients that go with the actual pansit is another kind of story to unfold. Some may prefer the usual carrot with cabbage, while some may add in some squid balls and kikiam as extenders and flavor enhancers.
Loving the Food May Take Practice
If you’re one of the people who simply don’t like eating Filipino food because of the ingredients, the way it was served, or the memories attached to it, don’t fret. It’s okay to feel that way because not everyone has the same preferences and taste buds anyway.
On the other hand, if you want to start loving at least one or two Filipino foods, go and try something new today. As long as it’s not within your dietary restrictions or will not lead to any health problems, go for it! Be adventurous and appreciate the Filipino food as it is–enjoy the trial and error in the process.