Food Culture in the Philippines

Food culture is an important part of cultural life. The food culture of a country can reflect the social changes and humanistic feelings of a country. The food culture of the Philippines not only has a unique internal culture, but also has rich historical connotations.


As the largest Catholic country in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is also the third largest Catholic country in the world. About 81% of its citizens believe in Catholicism, accounting for the majority of the population of the Philippines. Catholic food culture has had a profound impact on Filipino food culture, so this article mainly introduces the food culture of Filipinos who believe in Catholicism.


             Content Overview


1. Five meals a day for Filipinos

The Philippines is a tropical country with a hot climate all year round. People sweat a lot and burn calories very quickly, so they need to replenish heat and water in a timely manner. At the same time, most Filipinos are engaged in manual labor, which leads to excessive energy consumption. They need to replenish energy in time and take a short rest in order to better complete their work. Therefore, Filipinos have formed a lifestyle of five meals a day.



Filipinos value breakfast and lunch the most, so they have the most variety of breakfast and lunch. Affected by the eating habits of the United States and Spain, most Filipinos' breakfast is Western food, but it is not exactly the same as Western food because Filipinos will add rice to Western food.





In the Philippines, the most popular breakfast is Si-nangag (garlic fried rice). Filipinos usually fry the leftover rice from the previous day with garlic, bacon, and sausage, and then serve with fried eggs. At the same time, Filipinos eat desserts and fruits, such as ice cream and chocolate jelly, before the end of each meal.



Filipinos are bound to have meat dishes for lunch because meat is sometimes cheaper than vegetables. They like to eat pork, beef, chicken and other meats. The most famous meat dish is Chicken Adobo, which can be said to be the national dish of the Philippines.



Chicken Adobo



Dinner in the Philippines is still the main meal, so there is not much difference in eating between lunch and dinner. When there are no guests, dinner in the Philippines is a one-dish meal.



Meryenda is a snack time unique to Filipinos. Filipinos generally do not cook their own snacks at home, but buy them at street stalls because it saves time.



Fried Fish


In the morning Meryenda, people mainly eat snacks, such as quail eggs with orange peel, deep fried fish cakes and fried chili. In the afternoon Meryenda, people mainly eats fried rice noodles (Bihon), Philippine porridge (Goto), cheese rice cakes (Bibing-ka) and other foods that can replenish energy.


2. The dietary characteristics in Philippines

Due to climate, geographical location and history, the diet of Filipinos is very local.


Filipinos like to eat rice and tapioca.

70% of Filipinos eat rice as their staple food. Three meals a day are inseparable from rice. The main crop in the Philippines is rice, and the Philippines has abundant water and fertile soil. Rice is grown twice to three times a year.





Filipinos often cook rice with cassava juice, and they also like to drink a beverage made by boiling cassava with coconut juice.


Filipinos like sour, sweet and spicy taste.

The diet flavor of the Filipinos is very heavy. They like to eat pungent condiments, such as balsamic vinegar, chili, garlic, pepper, curry rice, sugar and so on. Any dish, even soup, is garnished with plenty of balsamic vinegar and garlic. Sometimes, if the balsamic vinegar is not sour enough, immature tamarind pulp is added.



Balsamic Vinegar


Representative dishes include: Lechon, Sinigang, Adobo, Lapu-Lapu fish, etc. It is recommended to go to a small restaurant owned by the Filipino, which is cheap and authentic.

Filipinos like fried and grilled food.

The favorite cooking method of Filipinos is deep-frying. The most famous fried foods include fried fish, fried bananas, fried pork skin, etc. The most famous grilled dish is Lechon (roast suckling pig).





Fruit is a necessity after meals.

Filipinos like to eat fruit very much, especially after meals. Whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, Filipinos will eat fruit after a meal. The Philippines is located in a tropical ocean climate zone, with plenty of rain and long sunshine hours, so it is rich in various tropical fruits. The most famous banana in the Philippines is the emperor banana. Mango is called the national fruit in the Philippines, and the most famous mango is Luzon mango. 



Emperor Banana


Filipinos like to eat Kamayan

Filipinos are very fond of eating Kamayan, the traditional Filipino feast. They usually eat Kamayan by using their bare hands.  Now, the upper-class people in the Philippines have developed the habit of using Western-style tableware, but the lower-class people in the Philippines still use their hands to eat. Therefore, most restaurants or tables in the Philippines have hand-washing facilities for people to wash their hands.





Kamayan's menu is based on cherished family recipes from all across the Philippines, but can also be interpreted with ingredients found at local markets and fish markets.

The staples of a kamayan cuisine include rice and noodles, as well as different kinds of meat and fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, and sauces. Additionally, the kamayan tradition emphasizes the importance of cooking together rather than having one person do all the cooking.


3. The origins of Filipino food culture

(1) The influence of Chinese cuisine on Philippine food culture.

China had already started trading with the Philippines during the Tang Dynasty and gradually immigrated to the Philippines. Influenced by the Chinese in the Philippines, Filipinos especially like to eat Chinese food, such as wontons, rice noodles, spring cakes, barbecued pork buns, offal, roast suckling pig, etc. Filipinos also love to eat zongzi





(2) The influence of Spanish and American culture on Philippine food culture.

Spain had colonized the Philippines for three hundred years. During this long period of colonial rule, Spain widely spread Western culture, education, politics, economy and way of life in the Philippines. Therefore, the lifestyle and eating habits of the Filipinos have left a deep Spanish imprint.


Spain has brought new food types to the Philippines, such as corn, tomatoes, coffee, cabbage and wheat. Spain also brought Western-style tableware such as knives, forks and spoons, napkins and glassware to the Philippines.





The "Paris Peace Treaty" stipulates that Spain transfer the sovereignty of the Philippine Islands to the United States. The United States had penetrated into the language, culture, education and social life culture of the Philippines in all aspects.


In terms of social culture, the American lifestyle and eating habits have the most profound impact on the Philippines, and the most significant impact is fried food. Affected by American food culture, Filipinos also like to eat fried food


(3) The influence of religious belief on Philippine food culture.

The Philippines is the largest Catholic country in Southeast Asia. Catholic culture has had a very profound impact on the social culture of the Philippines. In daily life, Catholics do not have special provisions for food and fasting, but Catholics have two fasting periods, namely the large fast and the small fast.


During the large fast and small fast, Catholics are required to observe the corresponding Canon law. The large fast is on the "Holy Ash Ceremony" Wednesday and the Friday before Easter, while the small fast is on every Friday.

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