We found a few dishes that we enjoyed, but overall, Filipino food was underwhelming. With the caveat that we didn't eat any home-cooked meals, our judgement is based solely on eating out at restaurants. I apologize in advance if my statement offends any of my Filipino friends back home. I myself would get very offended if someone told me Romanian food sucked. But I also know that in my country, home-cooked dishes often taste way better than their restaurant counterparts. So, I'm totally willing to give Filipino cuisine another try and maybe then I'll feel just as elated as Anthony Bourdain did.
Briefly said, Filipinos eat a lot of fried pork. Like HELLA. They even eat it for breakfast with sausages and rice. I mean, the entire Filipino breakfast consists of: a bowl of plain boiled white rice, a fried sausage or two and a fried egg. No wonder that a lot of people are a bit overweight. Fish and vegetables are not as prevalent in their diet as I'd have expected from a tropical insular country.
Fresh fish for sale at the big produce market in Baguio.
Adobo (marinade in Spanish) refers to the immersion of raw meat in a sauce made of paprika, oregano, salt, garlic, and vinegar to preserve and enhance its flavor. In antiquity, meat and fish were difficult to conserve. Cold facilitated the conservation of food, but the weather often did not provide low temperatures ideal for preservation, so it was necessary to apply other techniques, such as adobo. Animals were usually slaughtered in the coldest months of winter, but surplus meat had to be preserved in the warmer months. This was facilitated through the use of adobos (marinades) along with paprika (a substance with antibacterial properties). Adobo was employed initially as a method of food preservation, but in time, with the advent of refrigeration methods, it came to be used primarily as a method of flavoring foods before cooking.
However, the Filipino adobo is a completely different thing: "In Filipino cuisine, adobo refers to a common cooking process indigenous to the Philippines. It should not be confused with the Spanish and Latin American adobo, as they have different origins and refer to different dishes despite sharing the same name. When the Spanish invaded the Philippines in the late 16th century, they encountered a cooking process that involved stewing with vinegar. The Spanish referred to this method as adobo due to its superficial similarity to the Spanish adobo. Nevertheless, the Filipino adobo is an entirely separate method of preparing food and is distinct from the Spanish marinade."
In the photo above is my favorite Filipino dish and as of now one of my all-time favorite dishes: sinigang. Sinigang is a clear-broth soup with an intense sour flavor. The sourness comes from tamarind (sampalok). The soup can be made with either fish, shrimp, pork or chicken. I had it twice, once with milkfish and another time with shrimp. It's seriously delicious. In terms of sour soups, I rank it high up there with the likes of Tom Yum (Thai) and Ciorba de vacuta (Romania). The three best sour soups of the world.
Above: a sea urchin, ready to be eaten. You only eat the teeny tiny yellow roe at the bottom.