the philippines

the philippinesspanish dishes, cheese, tomatoes and coconut

Despite being colonised by various nations including America and China, it was the 400-year period of Spanish rule (1521-1898) that had the most lasting influence on its culture and cuisines. The Spanish not only brought in the Roman Catholic religion to the country but also Spanish cooking techniques like sauteing (the guisado) and stewing and ingredients such as cheese and tomatoes- food items that more frequently used in the Philippines then anywhere else in Southeast Asia. Cheese is in fact unheard of in other tradional dishes within the region. Many of the Filipino dishes have Spanish names because to most Filipinos then, Spain symbolised sophistication and elegance since Spanish food were only served to the upper class elites during the colonial period.

Daily Meals

One of the Filipino dishes that is a product of Spanish cooking techniques is the adobo, which although originated from Mexico, is arguably now the Philippine’s national dish. It refers to a mixture of chicken and pork that is simmered slowly together in vinegar, ginger and black pepper. There’s also the pochero which is a slow-cooking mixture of meats, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. Leche flan, a traditional filipino dessert of Spanish origin, is a creamy custard often topped with sweetened coconut or also known as the filipino version of the creme caramel.

adobo.jpg  adobo


leche-flan.jpgleche flan

Foods also reflect culinary influences not only from the Spanish but also the Malays and Chinese. For instance, the typical Chinese egg rolls have developed into lumpia, a thin sheet of noodle dough rolled around a savoury rather than vegetarian filling. Chinese noodle dishes, like the pancit gusaido are found throughout the 7000-island archipelago with sauces made from local ingredients.Halo halo (tagalog for “mix mix”) is reminiscent of the Malay Ice-Kacang where it has the same mixture of agar-agar, red beans and evaporated milk over a pyramid of crushed ice but in the filipino version, fruits and ice cream are added.


pancit-gusaido.jpgpancit gusaido

halo-halobmp.jpghalo halo

Religious Festivities

The only religion that didn’t arrive with the Spainiards was Islam and that only impacted a minority of Filipinos, mostly in the South. The majority of the Philippines embraced the Catholic faith (brought in by Spanish priests). Spanish dishes (with a native twist) such as pochero are often always served at fiestas; in predominantly Muslim Mindanao, tinola, a fish soup seasoned with tomatoes and onions are often found during special occasions.


Fillipino foods makes the most of Spanish influences and local ingredients to make some of the most unique cuisines in the region- a gastronomical journey through the colonial history of the Philippines.

Walang matigas na tinapay sa mainit na kape.

-No bread is too hard for warm coffee, a filipino proverb


2 Responses to “the philippines”

  1. 1 hariz
    March 24, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    hey, besides showing pictures of the different dishes, how about showing pictures of the locals feasting on the dishes. Roughly to show how the food is normally consumed. And besides the historical info, can you give a rough idea on how the dish is locally prepared as compared to their origins if there are any differences.

  2. 2 siti.
    March 27, 2008 at 2:02 am

    ahh. okay. i’ll try to do that.

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March 2008


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