Sampling the gustatory delights that a place has to offer is naturally one of the most enjoyable parts of travelling. It goes without saying that a trip to France would not be complete without sampling wines and delicate pastries, that seeing Italy means having the best pizza and pasta, and that a trip to India would not be complete without tasting spicy curries and fine vegetarian dishes.
And while the Philippines might be better known for its beaches than its cuisine, you’ll find that the fusion of Chinese, Middle Eastern, Spanish and American influences in this country has resulted in many interesting dishes. What follows is a list of the best places to visit in the Philippines for food lovers to visit.
To start off, someone who loves good, savory home-cooking will find that the best places to visit in the Philippines for a nice, hot, peasant-style meal would be the Tagalog regions in Luzon. Pampanga is famous for being the birthplace of sisig, a dish made out of grilled pork chopped finely and quickly sautéed with onions and chillies that makes a fine accompaniment to beer.
In the areas of Laguna and Batangas, you’ll find the best bulalo, a rich soup made by simmering beef shanks until the meat is so tender it’s falling off the bones. The best sinigang, a soup akin to the Thai tom yum that combines sour and savory elements, can be found in Bulacan.
If you have a sweet tooth on the other hand, the best places to visit in the Philippines are the sugar-producing cities of Bacolod and Iloilo are the places to go. There’s a joke that everything in these areas is cooked with a little sugar in it. It’s certainly true that they make the best caramel tarts and melt-in-your-mouth butterscotch bars, buttery biscocho, crisp, eggwhite-topped banadas and decadent napoleones.
For people with adventurous tastes, there’s Mindanao. In Davao City, you’ll find the famously pungent durian, a fruit that “tastes like heaven and smells like hell.” If you find yourself unable to handle the fresh fruit, Davao City restaurants offer durian shakes, ice cream and cakes.
Davao City is also the place to buy Café Alamid, an expensive coffee made from the droppings of civets that have been fed aromatic coffee berries. Other areas of Mindanao also offer a chance to sample Middle-Eastern inspired cuisine, as well as an abundance of fresh seafood and other natural produce.