Panlasang Pinoy gets another limelight on the international food table. This, after food & lifestyle website, Taste Atlas, ranked Filipino food in 19th place, with a score of 4.38. The score was based on users’ ratings of the country’s food and beverage offerings. The list was dominated by European countries, with Italy taking the top spot, followed by Greek, Spanish, Romanian, and French cuisines.
Interestingly, the Philippines ranked higher than South Korean cuisines—considering how South Korean food and beverage has been dominating our country. Another interesting bit from the list is how the United States breached through the top 10 list. The reaction of people about its ranking include citing that American cuisine is not unique and has no specific blueprint. However, this is also something that we can ask say about our own cuisine.
Filipino gastro-identity crisis
No one in the country would deny the heavy influence of other nations when it comes to our food offerings. Our very own Pancit came from Chinese traders and neighbors. The concept of Lechon came from our Spanish colonizers. Even Lumpiang Shanghai isn’t entirely exclusive to the Philippines.
But it doesn’t necessarily mean that we do not have an identity. Sisig, Sinigang, and Adobo would have a word with you if you said so. These three dishes were also the main characters on the recent list. Nothing is more Filipino than Sisig—conceptualized by turning trash into a food gold, literally. In our previous article, we talk about how our identity lies in the fact that most Filipino food is made out of the need to survive and share survival with others.
Speaking of Adobo, while we understand that the dish’s name came from the Spanish word adobar, which means “marinade,” the adobo ingredients already existed in the country, even before Ferdinand Magellan reached our shores. We only use the name adobo because there was no earlier record of the original name of the Filipino dish.
Since cooling systems for food preservation started in the mid-1700s, and refrigeration for commercial use only became available to the public in 1913, our ancestors had to develop methods of preserving food. Most methods include the use of lots of salt and vinegar. When Chinese traders introduced soy sauce, salt was replaced altogether, and voila! The modern-day adobo was born.
It’s all in the roots.
As with other nations, food preparation comes with ensuring it would remain edible longer than usual. In the Philippines, much of our food evolved out of our need to address the food supply challenges. Like in the case of Sisig, Aling Lucing picked out unused parts of a pig and turned it into an internationally-recognized dish since the Americans did not consider such parts edible. Thanks to the classic Filipino dish served at a reasonably low price, many Filipinos were made full—a literal story of turning trash into gold.
Despite the current ranking of Filipino cuisine, we still have a long way to go to introduce our country’s flavors. However, this is a feat we would ecstatically accept. With our country’s food gaining traction on the international food scene, we hope to see our culture and tradition highlighted on each table our dishes land on—one plate at a time.Share this article: