When it comes to describing Filipino food, most people would say it's a prime example of fusion cuisine.
Having been colonized by three different countries and inspired by the ingredients of our Asian neighbors, our local cuisine has been a melting pot of all these cultures.
Through the recommendations of respected culinary icons such as Anthony Bourdain, among many others, the rest of world is finally learning to love our own delicacies.
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) sat down with five renowned food experts—Chef Mikel Zaguirre, Chef Dennis Uy, Chef Kakel Chan, Chef Sau del Rosario, and culinologist Edith Singian—to talk about the unique characteristics of Filipino cuisine, and these are three things they love about our food.
1. All about family: For Chef Sau del Rosario, Filipino food is "personal" and "emotional."
He related, "May personal meaning lagi ang food sa 'tin e, di ba?
"May maamoy ka lang, 'Ay, naalala ko nanay ko.'
"May natikman ka lang, 'Ay, 'yan yung kinakain ko nung bata ako.'
"So, it's deeper… [it] tells a story. And most of the time, it is an extension of who we are."
What makes Filipino food deeply rooted in family is how each clan proudly upholds its own interpretation of a dish.
Chef Sau continued, "Yung cuisine natin napaka-personalized sa 'tin.
"May kanya-kanya tayong sangkap, may kanya-kanya tayong adobo, nagba-vary siya.
"I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing because some people would say, 'How come your adobo is different for what I've tasted many years ago?' Kasi ano tayo e, islands tayo, e. So, we have different cultures."
2. All about diversity: In addition to each family having a heirloom recipe of certain Filipino dishes, Chef Mikel, Chef Dennis, and Chef Kakel recently brought the various regional dishes of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to the spotlight in a special buffet offered by F1 Hotel Manila in Bonifacio Global City.
When asked about the regional difference, Chef Mikel told PEP, "Pinoys are really straightfoward. Really, really simple. Really straightforward.
"Mahilig sa gata, mahilig sa matamis, that's Luzon for me.
"You would see in Visays, more on ginger, more in seafood.
"And now, when you go to Mindanao naman, more spices, more mixture of flavors, more pops of some herbs, some spices. So ,very different.
"Makikita niyo ang different characteristics ng each island, which makes it very, very special."
3. All about flavor: If there's one characteristic distinct among our local dishes, culinologist Edith Singian believes that it's our love for different sauces, dips and condiments.
She explained, "One thing I love about Filipino [dishes], yung sawsawan. Dami-dami kaya nating sawsawan!
"Mga anak ko, when it's tinola, paborito nila yung kalamansi na may patis, 'tapos dudurugin nila yung atay ng manok sa sawsawan.
"We cannot eat without sawsawan.
"Even as simple as kamatis, sibuyas, bagoong, di ba?
"Hindi mawawala sawsawan. Suka, kapag inihaw.
"Very Filipino ang sawsawan, I think so."
What about you, PEPsters?
What do you love most about Filipino food?