On Pinoy Food

What do non-Pinoys think of Pinoy food ? A friend told me that the reason why there are thousands of Chinese restaurants in this city is because there are literally thousands of Chinese recipes that people could enjoy, compared to the much smaller and minor-league list of Pinoy recipes. I might also add to the fact that other than the Chinese being the largest ethnic community in this country, Chinese food is generally easy on the taste buds, more neutral tasting and not horribly spicy -and I don’t mean hot- unlike Indian food where every dish seems to be tempered with garam masala , an amalgamation of spices which makes every dish supposedly “warm and spicy”, a signature taste of most dishes from the sub-continent.

I have served Pinoy food to my non-Pinoy friends and I usually shy away from preparing dinuguan or kare-kare because they fall into the category of “acquired taste” and a little too exotic to people used to eating nothing more than meat and potatoes. Of course there are always those adventurous folks who would try anything new but I doubt if they have the audacity to try balut. I’d rather not bring balut into the picture and risk turning the party into a disaster if not a puking contest and risk losing their friendship permanently 🙂 I also got a couple of not-so-friendly emails when I blogged about the Jolibee brouhaha a couple of years ago. Strange how Pinoy patriotism shows up defending a wannabe like Jolibee who makes a killing by selling cafeteria tasting fast food .

It’s funny that a very ordinary dish such as tosino can appeal so much to non- Pinoys that a Caucasian colleague of a friend of mine vowed to have tosino as a dish in her wedding reception 🙂 I have Asian friends who became addicted with pork sinigang’s uniquely sour but heavenly taste that we have given them the recipe and where to buy the ready sinigang mix. A South American from Peru who did my hardwood floor with his son a few years ago liked the taste of banana ketchup so much that we gave him a bottle. A few days later he called me where he could buy banana ketchup. The folks at the local Pinoy store here joke about Caribbean folks liking dinuguan so much that they began calling it “chocolate pork”. I was at the same store once and saw this big Caribbean dude with four grilled tilapias on his plate with no side orders and in a matter of minutes, he reduced them to bones.

I can say that the cassava cake is probably the best liked Pinoy dish, at least in my opinion. On the three occasions my wife baked cassava cake for her office potluck party, the cassava cake was a hit on all counts. One of her colleagues – an African-Canadian loved it so much that she kept on offering a 20 dollar bill for my wife to bake one for her. It turned out that she was born in Nigeria, where cassava is a staple food of the country. Another colleague requested my wife to cassava cake for her birthday and offered to pay for all the ingridients. How can you refuse such request? On another occasion, a co-employee who was a complete stranger from the other side of the floor told her – “ I’ve been looking for you for the last 2 days. I’ve been asking everyone – who brought that wonderfully strange tasting cake at the potluck the other day ? Now tell me about it – where did you buy that sucker? “ 😆

Of course, we all heard of former Ambassador to the U.S. Cocoy Romualdez’s famous or infamous “adobo diplomacy”. This “sockless” ( no pun intended – he hated to wear socks) diplomat and brother of Empress Imelda had a shameless habit of sending adobo dishes to the bigwigs in Washington. Ugh. 😦 Methinks it is really tacky but it’s just one of the man’s known list of strange idiosyncrasies, one of them being the penchant for simplex communication. The man was known for being notoriously hard to get on the phone and always preferred to call people back. It was said that he didn’t care who called, not even the big Bro in-law but made an exception for who ? – big Sis of course 🙂 I wonder if there ever was an accompanying card for the adobo package. I imagine it would have been like “Ron ( Reagan), here’s some real tasty adobo for you and Nancy. You MUST eat this with hot steamed rice. Do anything with them but never eat them with french fries, OK? Oh, and by the way, did you sign the aid package yet? . ” Heck , if he got things done with the adobo diplomacy, then let’s give credit to the adobo for the Pinoy dish that moved mountains 🙂

Strange Habits…..

I have an office mate who when attending a meeting, takes about 20 pages of white bond paper with him for note taking. What the heck would he do with 20 pages – take a transcript of the whole meeting ?

Some people have a habit of putting their key chains on their belt so they can free up their pockets with the heavy keys. At a conference the other day, I saw this guy with a bunch of keys, not less than 30 on his belt and I swore if he wore blue trousers he would look like the administrator of the building let alone being mistaken for the ice-cream man with the ting-a-ling sound he makes as he walks around.

Call me a dork but a backpack NEVER blends or brings any sartorial grace with a suit in my opinion. To me, a guy wearing a suit with a backpack is like Manny Pacquiao wearing long sleeves in a boxing match.

Eating a hamburger with a knife and fork is hypocritical enough. How about this guy who is served with a fat hamburger with a mountain of fries on a plate, takes a napkin to hold the burger so he could feast on it.Huh ? I say that napkin took 50% of the flavor of the burger. Nothing beats eating a burger with your bare hands – screw etiquette !


42 Responses

  1. Yammie!

    Very yammie! 🙂

  2. Chinese food is very mild thats why people get to like it easily. I can’t take Indian food. It is too strong for my taste.

    Adobo diplomacy ? weird ! 20 pages? haha. LOL on all the strange habits 🙂

  3. Hahaha! I remember that Jollibee brouhaha post of yours! I think I even blogged about it before getting my own domain. Man, has it been two years already since that issue exploded?

    Oh yes, that no-good younger brother of Madam Imelda was considered a freako by Washington insiders because of Adobo Diplomacy. Nothing was said though, if the people he gave them to even enjoyed the dish…

  4. I didn’t expect we have a so-called Jollibee fiasco. I read your entry about it and I agree. Period.

    This kind of thinking reminds me of something Jessica Zafra wrote, which still gives me a laugh everytime I read it.

    Idiots by Jessica Zafra:


    “Jesus I go on a trip for a weekend and the idiots gang up on Jon Stewart. What is this, Whine About Perceived Slurs Against Filipinos Week? I couldn’t care less about Desperate Housewives that bland overhyped tarted-up version of Knots Landing, but I have a personal stake in The Daily Show because it’s one of very, very few shows that recognize the existence of intelligent viewers. It is not my policy to explain things to the irony-challenged and literal-minded–they’re not my audience, and as Reret would say, Kawawa naman ang bobo. But we’re talking about Jon, my husband and the father of my children.”

  5. I think Cocoy’s note would be more like, “Dearest Ron, Here’s some tasty adobo in case my bro-in-law ever needs safe passage to Hawai’i so he can avoid prosecution.” 😉

    The Chinese definitely have a wider array of foods to choose from. Although I do enjoy the sour sinigang. 😀

  6. i love cassava cake! i have a suki here in the saturday market who sells leche flan cassava cake. the top layer is obviously, leche flan. sarap!

  7. Freestyler – 😕

    Nana-nanana 😐

  8. Irrealis – Chinese dishes are definitely more accepted worldwide. After all, there’s a Chinatown in almost every major city in the world 😐

    yes, 20 pages – if not more. Weird indeed 😯

  9. Sngl – I can’t believe that was 2 years ago man 🙂 That brouhaha whirled around for a bit in the blog world with Jollibee loyalists almost launching an air strike againts that Yankee blogger 🙂

    It looked like Reagan became an adobo fan after all, from what I’ve read. In some way, the adobo helped the good ambassador on his shortcomings hehe 🙂

  10. Jeff – yep, the Jollibee brouhaha lasted for a while, much like the Malou Fernandez saga 🙂

    LOL on Jessica Zafra’s article on Jon Stewart. Looks like she digs Stewart big time. I have some VHS of Jon Stewart when he was a stand up comic – hilarious 🙂

    Funny but many years ago, there was this Pinoy-born principal who was ousted from his position at an elem school in Calif. This man came to the States when he was 8 years old, raised in the US, doesn’t speak Tagalog , a US citizen and lo and behold some Pinoy bloggers attempted to mobilize the entire Pinoy nation came to his rescue LOL 🙂

  11. Wil – Thats funny. That would have meant that adobo diplomacy saved the life of Macoy hahaha 🙂

    Well, it is also true that most of our so called prime Pinoy dishes are unmistakably Chinese – like pancit and lumpia Shanghai 😳

  12. Mari – same here !

    My wife knew absolutely nothing about cooking when she came here. My sis in the US taught her how to make cassava cake. 😐

    Actually the diet conscious folks here are a little intimidated by the custard or leche flan topping so we make the cassava cake look healthier – no topping, not too sweet but with macapuno and vanilla. It’s still a hit 🙂

  13. wow! i didn’t know non-Filipinos will appreciate casava cake as it’s not that famous here but it tastes really good.

    this is a nice article because i just learned why most of the Filipino food/dishes are not well known to the foreigners.

    i love japanese food and vietnamese food.

  14. i am amused watching The Fear Factor one time where the contestants put roaches in their mouths easily but squirmed when challenged with eating balut.

    i think how one likes food depends on what he’s exposed to eat all his growing years. like that Nigerian who had cassava as staple food that’s why she loves baked cassava cake. it can also be the similarities of what they eat to what we eat.

    i agree that Chinese food is superb. must be the herbs and spices that are used.

    donning a back pack with a suit is pure poor fashion sense. 🙂

  15. I love Pinoy food to death man. LOL on the man eating hamburger plate with a napkin. Masyadong pa cute yata 🙂

  16. Dong – cassava isn’t too common here. Mostly Carribean and African folks recognize cassava but for the locals they consider it kind of exotic 🙂

    part of the problem of Pinoy food is identity because our food has lots of similarities with Chinese and also Mexican- Spanish( menudo, even adobo) 😐

  17. Around here, it’s the lumpia and pansit that’s most requested each time we have a potluck.

    Yah, dinuguan is called chocolate meat around here too.

    I used to see different nationalities at local Jollibee here enjoying our burgers, and I was happy that they preferred this over American chains.

  18. Bing – yep, that Fear Factor show was creepy. I can never eat those worms and maggots these guys were eating on the show yuck 😦 I can tell you when I talk about balut during our cafeteria lunches here, people shudder with fear and say – how can you possibly eat the gross looking fetus ? 😳 I tell them it’s really tasty hehe 🙂

    Yes, African and Carribean folks adore our cassava cake. Almost every local who taste it for the first time love it too 🙂

    Backpack on a suit is so baduy 😦

  19. Ryan_b – same here although I am not to crazy with lechon anymore with the oozing fats 😦

    LOL ! Baka galing ng washroom at hindi naghugas ng kamay hehe 🙂

  20. Ewok – yep, lumpia and pansit aren’t too intimidating to the local palate I guess. Our pastor adores menudo a lot and every potluck at church we make sure he’s first hehe 🙂

    Hmm.. maybe for a change.. sofr something sweeter 🙂 .. But that Jollibee hamburger pink sauce of mayo and ketchup was a subject of intense criticsm by that Yankee blogger lol 🙂

  21. My aunt used to sell “Tupig” an Ilocano delicacy, made from ground rice and coconut milk, wrapped in banana leaf and traditionally cooked by roasting them on hot stone embers.

  22. She used to sell them to her neighbors in California.

  23. the first time i heard a foreigner comment on our dessert is that it IS too sweet…almost like eating sugar. 🙂

    the rest are as you’ve mentioned acquired taste, especially kare-kare and dinuguan which we call ‘Bloody Mary’. 🙂

  24. Richmond – never heard of that “tupig” delicacy before but is sure sounds like it’s tasty. I like anything roasted hehe. Your aunt is quite enterprising 🙂

  25. Ipanema – folks here for some reason are very partial to cake while we Pinoy love sweets – anything sweet 🙂

    It is also fact that people here are conscious of their calorie intake. I’ve seen Pinoy bakeries here sell all-wheat pandesal which is great. We bake the healthier version of the cassava cake, minus the flan topping but it is still tasty 🙂

  26. Ey! You can have your own home made cassava cake business. 😀

  27. Ferdz – that’s a good idea except that the wifey buys cooked food from the Pinoy store more than cooking at home these days. It’s the usual case of “tamaritis” 😆

  28. Since I dont cook much Pinoy food, I seldom bring any to work. On potlucks I buy food to bring. Once I did bring this tray of FV desserts which was a big hit. They loved the cassava and the nilupak but barely touched the ube. I guess the purple color sort of threw them off. My hubby calls dinuguan , the chocolate dish too. And kare-kare , as peanut butter dish. he!he! Sadly, he doens’t like any.

  29. I think we just need to present and market our food better… like what the Thais did. I know that our foreign guests here always love our Filipino food – adobo, pancit palabok, Tagalog bistek, etc..

    Some foreigners find our food too brown and too greasy.

    LOL at Cocoy Romualdez’s accompanying card! 🙂

  30. gusto ko ng cassava cake. hehehe.

    ako pa naman i prefer backpack, lalo na pag travels.

    and i use the napkin, not because of etiquette, but because of the grease 🙂

  31. i though i posted quite a lengthy comment on this one. might have been lost. pinoy food, the best we have, should be promoted and just focus on the unhealthy ones

  32. I usually avoid serving Pinoy foods to non-pinoys. But once, at one of my kids’ birthday parties, I served lumpiang shanghai and the kids loved it. My chicken adobo was also a hit when my middle son brought it to school on multicultural weekend. I also once brought adobo to work on food day. It wasn’t a big hit but there was only a few leftovers. 🙂

  33. I noticed that a lot of Americans love lumpiang shanghai and pancit bihon. The other stuff such as adobo and kare-kare are just way too greasy for them.

    I’m with you on eating hamburgers and fried chicken. I love to eat them with my bare hands! 🙂

  34. Leah – with a husband who is non-Pinoy, I’m sure you have your own experiences too 🙂 Even with seemingly harmless dimsum, I’ve seen officemates who frown at the offerings and would rather have pizza or french fries !

  35. Toe – I think you’re right – it’s a matter of presenting it correctly and sometimes even Chinese restaurants here begin to “westernize” their offerings. For example, we see brocolli as substitue to the standard bok choy in a chop suey dish, to encourage non-Chinese people to try them 😐

    Cocoy was a character wasn’t he? You will read about him in the controversial book ” Conjugal Dictatorship” written by Primitivo Mijares about the Marcos regime.

  36. Tin – okay lang mag backpack ka, if you’re not dressed in a business suit 🙂 This guy I saw had a mound of french fries that he presumably ate with his bare hands why cover the hamburger with napkin? Well, in your case, you’re a girl – bagay sa iyo mag hold ng hamburger with napkin but just make sure you use fork to eat the fries hehe 🙂

  37. Backpacker – you got it. We must showcase only healthy Pinoy food kasi ang dami nating unhealthy foods ! I think lechon has already lost its appeal here, more of symbolic na lang of Pinoy culture.

  38. Niceheart – we serve neutral tasting foods like adobong manok, bbq pork, even pancit malabon which is a unique Pinoy variant, lumpia – caucasian folks like them a lot. 🙂

  39. Panaderos – once we had a departmental meeting at an Indian restaurant and there we a couple of folks who barely ate anything ! I’ve seen a couple of young caucasian lads at the fast food section of a mall feasting on rice with toyo , aka their version of french fries with catsup 🙂

  40. Your post made me really hungry, BW!

    I miss tocino, kare kare, sinigang, cassava cake, bibingka, etc.!

    It’s impressive how your wife knows how to make cassava cake. I saw some cell groupmates of mine do it, and I tell you, it was labor-intensive!

    My adobo is a disaster, but my husband loves it just the same. He’s such a low-maintenance type of guy. Just my type. 🙂

  41. Jay-ann,

    I’m sure you can get these dishes at Pinoy stores/restaurants there 🙂

    As for the adobo, calderata, apritada or sinigang, Mama Cita ready made sauce ( just add water) is the saviour. They sell them here for 99 cents and it does help – big time 🙂

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