82 | Food
Not surprisingly food courts and restaurants at malls, are foodie destination havens. You will find a range of restaurant options. From casual restaurants all the way to high-end restaurants, the mall can be your destination for food in the Philippines. FILIPINO CUISINE WOULD NOT BE COMPLETE WITHOUT MERIENDA
Filipinos love Merienda or ?snacks in between meals?. The perfect excuse to eat several times during the day. In the Philippines, there are typically two meriendas. One in the late morning, and the other one in the afternoon. A large variety of sweet or savory dishes can be eaten at Merienda. Sweet delicacies might be pastries, mango pies, sticky rice, rice cake and more. And for the savory options you might have empanaditas (small savory
pastries), noodles, fish balls, and the famous local delicacy balut (developing duck embryo). NO CULTURE OF LINGERING OVER MEALS
So far, as we have observed, Filipinos don?t have a culture of sitting and lingering over meals for a long time. This is very different from what we observed on our quest in Argentina, where long lunches or dinners were a favorite, especially on the weekends. As we mentioned previously, Filipinos eat all their dishes at the same time. With no set courses, it feels like people are racing through their meals. Very often, we found ourselves eating slower than most of the people at the table. In addition, lunch or dinner rarely lasted more than one hour. When in the Philippines, be prepared to pick up the pace at mealtimes.
FOOD IN THE PHILIPPINES IS NOT VERY VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY
One of my favorite experiences was sitting at a restaurant and ordering a side of vegetables. After eating a lot of pork and very little vegetables, we were excited to try a local vegetable specialty called ?pinakbet.? When the dish arrived, the waiter announced ?here is your vegetable dish.? We were so surprised to see pork and shrimp sitting on top of a bed of vegetables. We ate pinakbet several times in different regions, and each time this tasty vegetable dish was accompanied with pork and shrimp. Purely vegetable dishes are hard to come by in the Philippines. While eating food in the Philippines, look carefully at the ingredients in the ?vegetables? section of any menu.