The Philippines is another country with a crazy kitchen. For quite a long time I’ve been curiously observing Philippine restaurants in various corners of the world with their menus,full of incomprehensibly exotic names. Finally I had a chance to explore them at the source.
This report follows a series of food reports that also includes Peruvian, Japanese, Chilean, Indonesian and even Hawaiian cuisines.
My stay in Manila was only 5 days long. This is entirely insufficient in order to try out all the wonders of Philippine cuisine. Even if you check out several new articles per day as I did. Whole series of enticing names remained undiscovered, such as crispy pata, grilled isaw, sinigang, kesong puto etc etc etc.
Let’s start from bibingka – a rice cake covered with cheese. The Filipinos eat constantly, 5-6 times a day, and in between they must take some snacks. Bibingka is exactly a kind of a light snack that allows them to bridge the interminable gap between for example fourth and fifth food intake of the day. I ordered bibingka as a starter. It has a rather subdued, nuanced taste, clearly exhibiting coconut milk and cheese.
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I had some reservations about visiting Manila, as I had heard a few rather unfavourable accounts about stays there. A friend for example shared a story about how the police arrested him just for standing in a dark alley and accused of buying drugs in order to extort a bribe. And yet contrary to Jakarta, Manila did not appear all that frightening, quite the opposite, I felt really comfortable there. The five days I’d spent there even seemed too little to fully appreciate the capital and for sure the Philippines overall. To be sure, you do get shocked by the poverty and the squalid conditions, and especially by the contrast between luxurious supermarkets and filthy streets where children sleep right on the ground. I started my tour of Manila from Intramuros, which is the old city ringed by the city walls built by the Spanish in the old colonial times.
The Southern gate of Intramuros. The walls are obviously quite impressive, practically stone-covered mountains.
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