Vogue writer Claudia McNeilly dispels Filipino food stereotypes to extol the multitude of culinary riches awaiting American palates and the restaurants whose chefs have embraced this rich and exciting cuisine.
For those not well-acquainted with Philippine cuisine, they will quickly find options beyond the stereotypical pork and sweet sauce. In fact, for health-conscious Americans there are many tasty, excellent options available. According to the article:
“… a natural abundance of seafood and tropical fruit has given rise to dishes that are light without being bland. Think mango and tomato salads finished with tart calamansi juice and bagoong, an umami-rich fermented fish sauce native to the Philippines. Or tilapia sinigang, a delicate soup for which whitefish is poached in sour tamarind broth alongside fresh greens like water spinach and bok choy.
Filipino food is notoriously unburdened by dairy or gluten, making it suitable for a variety of diets and health regimens. Meals are traditionally eaten family style, allowing the cuisine to slide seamlessly into the ascending trend of sharing plates and communal dining. The reliance on vinegar as a condiment renders standard Western sauces full of sodium and fat redundant. This in itself should be seen as a welcome addition to any table.”
Although Filipino food is well known for its assimilation of disparate flavors from a myriad of Eastern and Western cultures, its eclectic influences forge a remarkably distinctive and alluring identity:
“The palate of Filipino food is entirely its own, relying on acids and sweetness perhaps more than any other cuisine. The crunchy, indulgent exterior of lechon, or whole spit-roasted pig, is lightened with a dip of lechon sauce made from vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of liver. Savory dishes like pork longganisa (a sausage made of ground pork) and Jollibee-style spaghetti (pasta slicked with tomato sauce and a kick of sugar) are sweeter than one might expect. It’s here that flavors don’t blend together so much as sit atop one another, lifting each up into an addictive symphony of tangy, salty, and sweet.”
Curious? Learn more here: How Filipino Food Is Becoming the Next Great American Cuisine.