Eating habits in the Philippines

Eating habits - what they eat in the Philippines.

I know, it has been a long time since I wrote the last article. In here is the first part of the Philippine Curiosity, where I will tell you about eating habits in the Philippines and how important rice is. 

If you are planning a trip to the Philippines, be sure to read the guide on how to prepare for your trip to the Philippines.

Rice in the Philippines.

You know how often rice is eaten in Europe, aspecialy in Poland, in my case it was several times a month, sometimes even less often. When I moved to London, I was introduced to Chinese takeaway food, which mostly consists of rice with something. In the Philippines, however, it was already an extreme over. Rice is the basic ingredient of every meal there. It is like potatoes and bread in Poland. Even before I travel, I read a lot about the Philippines, and looked through many different recipes and I was prepared, but still my surprise was huge. I remember what impression I had on my first meals in the Philippines. One thing is that there were very small portions. I would say that if someone buys a standard portion from a Chinese take a way i Europe, they would have to order four, to get the same portion in the Philippines.
rice fields in Philippines

The second thing that surprised me was the use of vinegar and soy sauce and, ginger for almost every dish. The third was eating chili peppers with almost every meal. And the fourth one was our Polish bean in Breton, or English beans, they have the Filipino version, which did not differ too much in taste from ours. Fifthly, they serve rice for everything, and there are several types of rice. Whatever we eat with potatoes or bread normally, we eat with rice in the Philippines. Rice is the main crop, the second place I would say is corn. Practically, rice fields are everywhere. Fields up to the horizon. It is cultivated on muddy terrain, flooded with water. It grows fast and is harvested twice a year. Most of them by hands with a help of rifle, something like our mule. Rice fields look very beautiful when they are already big green plants, especially in the afternoon orange sunlight. It is probably the most beautiful shade of green. 
One day I suggested to Jingke that we will cook something with cabbage and we cooked a bigos (it is Polish dish which main ingredient is cabbage and meat). I have to admit that my wife is a great cook and her bigos is much better seasoned than I make it. It is for those who had the pleasure to cost the bigos I make. When she started eating after a moment of pride she went to the kitchen and added rice. This is how we started eating bigos with rice. I will tell you that such a combination is not so bad. Wife's parents behaved the same way, as siblings and friends. Jingke liked the bigos so much, that we cooked it at least every two weeks. One day, when we already lived with Jingke's parents, we decided to cook her favorite soup. We left full of delicious greasy broth and a bowl of pasta. When we prepared the tableware, Jingke made a bet with me that everyone would still eat the broth and rice. I could not even imagine that. So there was a bowl of rice, pasta and a pot of broth on the table. Can you believe? The broth and noodles were eaten only by me, dad, mommy, sister and little brother, together with my wife ate the broth and rice. I lost that bet.

An interesting fact is also any chain fast food that sells everything with rice. No Jolybee is from USA, you can expect, but after MC selling roast chicken with rice ? MC can surprise you in Asia, for example in Hong Kong sells delicious cheesecake with chocolate and coffee, in the Philippines MC is a master at making ice cream.

Can you get used to it ? It depends on how long someone stays in the Philippines. There is no alternative for rice, potatoes are very expensive, on average twice as expensive, bread and rolls are sweet, and they even make rice from corn. Rice is eaten with everything and at any time of the day, whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner. They cook it without salt, which you can get used to, although at first it seems tasteless. For the first few days I bought two portions of everything I ate, and then my demand for food gradually decreased due to high temperatures. 
In short, a day without rice is a lost day, and after two years I slowly got used to it. When I returned to London, I experienced a culinary shock, but after a few weeks I missed the rice. 

Eating habits of fish and seafood.

Seafood, as it's nicely called, is nothing but scars, crustaceans, snails and other sea creatures. And they are delicious. I'll say, the taste of fish bought in Poland or England, prepared in the best possible way, even if it was the most imaginative, is still washed with the taste of freshly caught fish in the Philippines. Here, fish and all kinds of sea freaks are on every table every day. Do you remember our video "picnic in paradise" ? This is the taste of fish bake, on the fire, is the most valuable. And it tastes so incredible, without any spices, without salt, without pepper. Caught and eaten on the spot. We ate fish almost every day. The same are the memories of night bonfires on the beach, the taste of such fish bought from a fisherman, fresh and tasty. As for seafood, I also found out. Shrimps are a rarity, the fact they are expensive because on average three times as much as fish, but delicious. And I remember when my wife and I were at the lake and there we fished shrimp and grilled it ourselves. I was not convinced only to octopuses. Everything else, snails, clams and squid, and frog legs - pride. Fish soup is cooked with the fish head, and the Filipinos have gone further and do not gut the fish, i mean cook them whole with flaxes, which is not too nice to peel the meat from flaxes. The head is a delicacy, and they eat the eyes ... madness. I tried it once and it is a jelly with a hard ball inside. Clams are delicious, especially when served spicy. Snail soup is also delicious.
Grilled fish in the Philippines

I also wanted to add that in the Philippines food is not wasted, so if you see someone eating shrimp with scales, or goat's head soup, or soup made of blood and remains that could not be eaten separately (tripe, ears, cartilage and other guts) just try it, sometimes it is quite tasty.

Eating habit of Lechon.

It is worth mention that the Filipinos  eat outdoors. Every evening, they are displayed in many places, often side by side, and each barbecue what they can. Anyway, Lechon is very good. All kinds of specialties like grilled chicken tripe, or uterus with egg, chicken paws. For me, the best barbecue is chicken skin. I do not know how they do it, but it tastes amazing. Prices of these delicacies are quite affordable, for such a one stick with loaded and grilled meat you have to pay about 15 to 40 pesos, and with the current price of peso is a food for a pennys. For one Euro we will get about 50 pesos, and for one English pound we will get 58 pesos. The second barbecue delicacy is lechon manok - that is roasted chicken. The price varies depending on the place. We paid 120 pesos for the whole chicken in Siquijor, and about 80 pesos in Ormoc. We know the bigger city, the bigger competition equals the lower price. 
Lechon in the Philippines

To prepare such "lechon manok" used lemon grass and nothing more. You push such rolled up grass into the middle of the chicken and put it on a grill. It taste like someone at grandma's would have made a roasted chicken from such a walking chicken a moment ago. So tasty eating habits.
The third festive treat is, of course, the "Lechon baboy", which is a roasted pig. I guess I don't have to say here, that it is fresh meat, because a little while ago it was running. Of course, you can buy such a pig and make it yourself and that's what most people do. I would call it a "Polish bigos", because on every bigger occasion there must be a "Polish bigos" on the Polish table.
The price of such a ready-made lechon baboy is about 4-5 thousand pesos. The price of a portion in a restaurant is about 80 pesos. Of course, everything is eaten with rice.

Vegetables and fruits

It doesn't look too funny here when it comes to vegetables. I can tell you that green fruits are used as vegetables, for example, green papaya soup is quite tasty. The main vegetable is pumpkin, carrot. Finding white onions is a lucky thing, there is cabbage and expensive cauliflower. Unfortunately I did not find parsley anywhere, even in the biggest markets. I highly recommend pumpkin soup, it is made on coconut milk and is really delicious, and the cost of such a portion is 15 pesos. 
Popular in the Philippines are all kinds of pasta with vegetables and chunks of meat. They are so delicious that they usually drip with fat, which is then reflected in the burp. 

When it comes to fruits, the choice and taste is irreplaceable. Fresh mangoes or bananas, or papaya or coconut are simply flavours that you will not find in Europe. These bananas bought in Poland or somewhere in Europe are a fodder variety that is not eaten in the Philippines. But the smallest bananas that are not accepted by the European Union are the best possible ones. Mangoes are so juicy that it is impossible to eat them without pouring juices on your hands. I don't want to mention fresh coconut, which is best for a hangover. 

Eating habits and prices of dairy, sausages and bread.

When I arrived in the Philippines, you will be shocked, especially those who love cheese. Eden is the only melted cheese available at an affordable price, the rest is a delicacy and cannot be bought everywhere. The price of Mozzarella cheese is 350 pesos per 200 grams, other cheeses are only available on larger islands and large shopping malls.  Cottage cheese it is not available, at least for the last two years I have not seen it anywhere. Milk, the most popular is powdered and it is expensive, for such a bag of 80 grams you have to give 150 pesos, and the most popular are Nestle. Butter to buy only in larger stores, a 200 gram cube is 50 to 80 pesos. There is also salted butter. The most popular are mayonnaise and sandwich spred, which is mayonnaise with the addition of something that is eaten on bread or bread roll. The local pizza ... don't even try.

The sausages look even worse. There are minced meat and hotdog sausages to choose from. No Filipino will eat it raw and everything has to be fried in deep fryer. The only alternative for me was to buy the minced meat in a SPAM can from time to time. There are no sausages like we Poles understand it, and there is nothing more to write about here. 
Bread in the Philippines .... there should be a long silence here... When I first approached the bakery shop... delighted with the variety of shapes and colors. I bought almost all kinds of bakery products one by one and ..... at home I was supposed to taste the flavors with a cup of coffee. And the flapper... Everything tasted the same and the colors were obtained chemically. Sweet, even over sweet, sticky from sugar. Breads, even the toasted ones are sweet, and the only buns that do not contain sugar are those for one peso that can be eaten in one bite.

Alcohols in the Philippines

 In the first place stands Tanduay Rum. The price of such a bottle starts from 25 pesos per quarter liter. It is drunk often in any occasion. As for rum, it is not from the highest quality and there are several types, the most popular is Tanduay light. The second one after it is Emperador or Brendy. And in the third place I would put the TUBA gallon - such a wine made of coconut. It is fermented coconut tree juice. It is probably the cheapest alcohol in the Philippines and available everywhere. And the price is about 80 pesos for three liters.
There is beer in the Philippines, but there is no choice. For those who are used to it in Europe, there is no room in the stores for all kinds of beer, but at least they have no such problem in the Philippines. The most popular ones are Red Horse, the second one is Sun Nigel and Colt 45. For me it is none of them, but if you don't have what you like, you like what you have :) as my grandma used to say.
But when it comes to tasty drinks from bars, I recommend all sorts of flags and other ' sheikhs ' it's crushed ice with some flavorful powder, my favorite is strawberry and added alcohol, usually vodka. It is drunk like juice and kicked slowly.
As for the weirdness I drank in the Philippines, it's the Chocolate boom, made from tanduay, concentrated milk and powdered chocolate, beer with mint cannons, or strawberry drink, 
It is also worth mentioning that wines in the Philippines are expensive because from 350 pesos upwards and there is no special choice. I advise against buying Chinese wines, they are astringent and not to be swallowed.

Where to eat

My eating habits, when travelling, I always follow the method of siege, i mean, I eat where most locals eat. I try to eat like them. If they pour something with spicy sauce, I pour it the same way, if they bite on chili peppers, I bite on it too. Why ? I explain it to that you, if locals eat something in combination with something, there must be some reason for it. Many times I suffered from indigestion or diarrhea, but when I started to eat like locals, the problems occurred sporadically.
The strangest eating habits, which I recommend for the brave ones, to taste the balut - a duck egg cooked with a duckling inside. According to Filipinos, it is a specialty for potency. 
I don't know how you guys, I love to try local specialties and flavors.