Getting Accepted Gastronomically in the Philippines

Westerners have been present in the Philippines for over four hundred years, and many Filipinos are aware that a Westerner’s ways are different. You see it more prominent when a Filipino married a Westerner. The outgoing hospitality of Filipinos, along with their willingness to adapt to foreign guests, make it too easy for them to “be themselves”, but then the cultural gap will only be emphasized, and their stay in the Philippines will remain that of spectators and outsiders.

A foreigner who makes the effort to “get into” the culture, on the other hand, is much appreciated because Filipinos always make a distinction between an outsider, who could even be a fellow Filipino, and one of their particular kin group. When you are offered boiled duck’s egg with a half-incubated chick inside, you will not offend if you decline gently and politely, but you will have missed the opportunity of instant acceptance. My husband missed that opportunity when he went to the Philippines.

One badge of being Filipino is to partake of a salty paste made of microscopic shrimps; because its overpowering aroma may put foreigners off, Filipinos are delighted no end when they actually eat and relish bagoong. I remember the first time I had bagoong after we got married. We lived in New York city at that time and when my husband entered our apartment, he wiggled his nose and asked me who died. The place stunk in high heaven! I burst out laughing. That was the first and only time we had bagoong in my entire 49 years of marriage.

Dinuguan by
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Another dish that most foreigners will not eat is dinuguan which is mostly made of pork innards and blood. The word comes from the Filipino word “dugo” meaning “blood”. The dish is in the form of a stew with the pork blood as the primary ingredient for the thickened sauce.

A popular gauge of a stranger’s indoctrination into the Filipino culture is usually the incubated duck’s egg called balut, the bagoong shrimp paste and dinuguan, the pork blood stew. It is not necessary to pretend to like those exotic foods. It is enough to be familiar with them and, in true Filipino fashion, smile while gently declining.

Source: Culture Shock Philippines by Alfredo & Grace Roces


8 thoughts on “Getting Accepted Gastronomically in the Philippines

  1. I think this is the same of many cultures and even provinces within countries. Here it would be pigs crubeens, black pudding and coddle. But as you say to decline with a smile makes a world of difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Different cultures have different taste in food which make us all unique. There are few things I don’t like: alligator hamburger and eel. Yikes!


  3. I’m a picky eater which is why I haven’t tried to get on certain TV food shows. There are plenty of American dishes I won’t try.

    My uncle tricked me into eating Rocky Mountain Oysters. He knew I would never willingly eat them. I thought I was eating chicken so they tasted like chicken to me although they probably taste like cow.

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  4. I will try anything except alligator meat and eel. I’ll eat oyster but not raw on a shell. I’m adventuresome with regards to food. I’m not one who goes say to Tokyo and look for MacDonald. A friend of mine did. I tasted Sushi in Tokyo and hated it and never eat it again.

    Liked by 1 person

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