Unlike other countries in South East Asia, the Philippines is not known for their cuisine. Internationally, their reputation is somewhere close to England and Mongolia. However, there are a few places that offer traditional Filipino food prepared the right way.
Standouts include grilled seafood or the famous Lechon Baboy (Suckling pig roasted on a spit). Try Leche Flan (cream caramel) for dessert. Kilawin or Kinilaw is the Filipino way to prepare raw fish (somewhat similar to Sashimi), also recommended.
You will always find ‘Adobo’, which is meat simmered in a savoury black sauce, usually chicken. Of course rice is always present; the locals eat it with every single meal and one without it is considered torture. You might find yourself with a side of white rice after ordering Spaghetti Bolognaise or a burger.
Most famous (or infamous) is ‘Balut’, originally a duck egg which is boiled just before the fetus hatches. If you can stomach a feathery duckling staring you in the face through it, the beak is crunchy. Not at all a bad beer snack.
Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables, abundant here. Local mangoes are said to be the sweetest in the world; bananas come in all types and sizes, and coconuts are cheap and healthy.
For a more local experience, visit the dampa or “wet market” to get the cheapest, freshest food. At a good price, you can buy fresh seafood (often still alive) to cook later or take to “dampa restaurants” which will do their best to prepare it how you like.
A word on street food: Unlike Thailand or other Asian countries known for tasty street food, in the Philippines you’re better off not eating the often un-hygienic food fried in plenty of saturated fat. An exception is Lechon Manok – tasty whole chicken, marinated and roasted on a spit—great protein to compensate for your last kitesurfing session.
Alcohol is generally inexpensive. Insider tip: mix your drinks with buko juice (water from the young coconut). The rehydrating and isotonic liquid will help you get up in the morning without a hangover, ready to rock and go Kitesurfing!
The tap water is good for showers only. For drinking water and brushing teeth, buy the bottled variety (say “tubig mineral” when ordering). In restaurants, be on the safe side and order mineral water. If you are in the country for longer, consider buying one of the big blue jerry cans and have them refilled at one of the water stations. These provide cheap potable water, treated with reverse osmosis and UV-sterilized. Don’t worry, with a balanced diet you will not have to re-mineralize it.
As with travel in any foreign country, eat and drink with caution to ensure you have a fun time on the water Kitesurfing—instead of spending your days on the toilet.
© 2014 – 250k Kiteboarding