In August 2017, Bayanihan Foundation NEXTGEN participants Marc Butiong, Camillo Geaga and I enjoyed the many food delights of the Philippine Islands. Marc is a self-described foodie and through his excitement trying new foods, I also got carried away trying wonderful Filipino food delights during our visit. Most food lists often highlight the weird stuff which makes Filipino fare seem exotic and inedible. Every cuisine has their share of ‘weird’ foods, even American fare. Have you tried deep-fried Twinkies? Yup, they serve them, as they say, “proud to be Ammerican” at the Illinois State Fair.
Here’s my top 10 list of food delights you must try the next you visit the Philippines Islands:
10. Bibingka at Kesong Puti (Filipino pancakes and white cheese made of carabao’s milk). The cheese complements the pancake so well. It tastes better than any goat cheese I’ve ever tasted.
9. Manggang hilaw na may bagoong (Sliced, green mangoes dipped in anchovy paste). Every island seems to have their hometown favorite of anchovy paste. You can skip the salty anchovies but you should try the crunchy flavor of a fresh, green mango. It is to die for.
5. Turon (fried bananas dusted with brown sugar, rolled in a spring roll). The best street food snack.
6. Fresh guavas. I picked this one right from the tree in Liloan, Cebu.
5. Tuyo, itlog, sinangag at pandesal (dried herring, scrambled eggs, fried rice and pan de sal bread). I enjoyed this hearty, Filipino breakfast, a perfect start when you’re going to see the sights of the islands.
4. Kalamansi juice ‘moxtail’ (a moxtail is a nonalcoholic beverage mixed with natural fruit juices and typically with iced tea). This one is made of fresh Philippine lime (Kalamansi). This one is a perfect refreshing drink I got at Greenbelt Makati.
3. Sweet rice with mango slices (Cafe Cesario, Cebu Airport).
Believe it or not I got this at a restaurant in Cebu Airport. It sure beats french fries or potato chips.
2. Make your own halo halo (shaved ice sundae). There are countless variations of halo–halo. Ideally, it’s a layered dessert consisting of shaved ice, evaporated milk, ice cream, and variety of mix-ins. Camillo Geaga enjoyed making his own version of halo halo at Cabalen Restaurant at the local Robinson’s Mall in Manila.
1. Seafood feast from the mangroves in Mactan, Cebu. We were guests of the fisher folk community in Mactan, Cebu and they served us a feast! (left to right clockwise: rice, shrimp, soy sauce, boiled crabs, fried fish, fresh seaweed, boiled bananas, and shellfish from the mangroves).
I noticed that Philippine cuisine is very regional. It varies as much as the thousands of islands that make up the archipelago. So what’s your favorite Filipino dish? Do you also have a list of top 10 favorites. Let me know. Enjoy!