What is a typical Filipino dinner

Slow Food vs. Fast Food in the Philippines
Filipino cuisine - it's all in the mix

The food culture in the Philippines is more than just typical South Asian cuisine. Versatility and contrasts shape the food traditions in the Philippines. This can also be seen in the fact that fast food and slow food go hand in hand.

From Friederike Jaich

Close your eyes and think about Filipino cuisine. What picture appears in your inner eyes? Almost certainly dishes that are typically associated with South Asian cuisine. When one thinks of Filipino food, one usually thinks of ‘traditional‘ South Asian cuisine, consisting of rice, vegetables and curries. Many tourists are surprised when they finally arrive in the Philippines and realize that in addition to the street kitchens, fast food restaurants have had an increasingly greater influence on the Filipino food culture. In contrast to the eating traditions of many of its South Asian neighbors, Filipino cuisine is not shaped by spicy chili dishes, but rather combines eastern and western ideas. In common Filipino dishes, such as meat stew, grilled vegetables and fish and especially fried rice, based on the Spanish paella, you can see the culinary influence of the Spaniards who colonized the Philippines for over 300 years. The subsequent colonization by the United States of America in 1889 brought the Filipinos closer to the idea of ​​ready-made cooking and thus also the idea of ​​fast food restaurants.

Fast food in the Philippines - a mix of Western and Filipino food

If you walk through Manila, the capital of the Philippines, you can see an interesting mix of street kitchens and fast food restaurants. While the small side streets are mostly home to street kitchens, the larger streets lined up with fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Subway, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King and Wendy's, to name just a few. Probably the largest fast food chain in the Philippines is not one of the American chains, but the Jollibee fast food chain founded in the Philippines. Jollibee was founded in 1975 by Tony Tan Caktiong as a small ice cream parlor in Quezon City and over the years has developed into the largest fast food chain in the country with over 750 branches. This makes the Philippines the only country in the world where a local supplier has succeeded in asserting itself against Mc Donald's and relegating the competitor to second place. Although many people equate the term fast food with the term junk food, fast food only refers to foods that are intended for quick consumption. The popularity of Jollibee in the Philippines can probably be explained by the fact that in addition to western dishes such as hamburgers and pasta, dishes that are common for the Philippines are also offered. This distinguishes the fast food chain from its American competitors in the Philippine market and is probably the company's recipe for success. The fact that Jollibee accounts for 65 percent of the food market shows the great influence of fast food in the Philippines - but what about slow food?

Slow Food in the Philippines - Culture and Tradition

Slow Food can be seen as the counter-movement to uniform and globalized fast food and shapes the concept of enjoyable, conscious and regional food. The Slow Food movement, originally from Italy, strives to preserve regional cuisine with local vegetable and animal products and promotes a conscious approach to production and consumption. In addition, a traditionally cooked dish with local ingredients reflects the history and culture of a country. Even before the term slow food was introduced in the Philippines, this topic was covered extensively. Authors such as Doreen Fernandes, a Filipino teacher, writer, cultural historian and scholar, have already explored the important link between food, culture and agriculture. In the meantime, a complete book has even been published, which, based on the Slow Food Movement introduced by Doreen Fernandes, deals with Slow Food and consists of a compilation of traditional Filipino recipes and essays. Since the Slow Food Movement arrived in the Philippines, one of the main focuses has been to make farmers aware of the diversity of the species on their farms and to promote their conservation. Pacita Juan, an active member of the Slow Food movement in the Philippines, emphasizes the importance of cultivated seeds and native animals for food culture, as they ensure biodiversity. It is therefore particularly important to the Slow Food Movement in the Philippines to protect them.

The fact that fast food does not determine the culinary life in the Philippines by itself shows the steadfastness of the street kitchens in the Philippines, even if they do not consciously deal with the slow food movement, the culinary traditions are adhered to here. Without thinking about it, exactly what the Slow Food Movement preaches over and over again is done. Local products are used and traditional dishes are cooked - not only for locals but also for many tourists who prefer the experience of traditional food. Seasonal products are always used, which come from the area. In addition to typical Filipino food, rice with different variations of meat and grilled fish, the Filipino delicacy balut is also often offered in the street kitchens. Balut is a hatched and then boiled duck egg that contains an almost full-grown duck embryo with a beak and feathers.

Slow food and fast food together shape Filipino cuisine

So how exactly can you describe Filipino cuisine? It has always been a mixture of numerous influences and you can still see that clearly today. Street kitchens are lively lined up next to fast food restaurants and both are well received by the population. You can see how full the Jollibee branches are, but also how the local street kitchens are used. Filipino food is very different from the food of other South Asian countries. Spanish, American and Chinese influences make Filipino food what it is. The traditional Filipino food is not only retained in the street kitchens, but also offered in the Jollibee fast food chain, which is probably what guarantees its monopoly position in the fast food industry in the Philippines.