Matter of Taste
Abril 16, 2007, 12:15 hapon
Filed under: Filipino, Philippines, Pilipino, Pinoy, Stories

Contributor: Jun Anteola

The following is from a British journalist stationed in the Philippines. His observations are so hilarious!!!! This was written in 1999.

Matter of Taste
by Matthew Sutherland

I have now been in this country for over six years, and consider myself in most respects well-assimilated. However, there is one key step on the road to full assimilation which I have yet to take, and that’s to eat BALUT. The day any of you see me eating balut, please call immigration and ask them to issue me a Filipino passport. Because at that point there will be no turning back.

BalutBALUT, for those still blissfully ignorant non-Pinoys out there, is a fertilized duck egg. It is commonly sold with salt in a piece of newspaper,much like English fish and chips, by street vendors usually after dark, presumably so you can’t see how gross it is. It’s meant to be an aphrodisiac, although I can’t imagine anything more likely to dispel sexual desire than crunching on a partially-formed baby duck swimming in noxious fluid. The embryo in the egg comes in varying stages of development, but basically it is not considered macho to eat one without fully discernable feathers, beak, and claws. Some say these crunchy bits are the best. Others prefer just to drink the so-called ‘soup’, the vile, pungent liquid that surrounds the aforementioned feathery fetus…excuse me, I have to go and throw up now. I’ll be back in a minute.

Food dominates the life of the Filipino. People here just love to eat. They eat at least eight times a day. These eight official meals are called, in order: breakfast, snacks, lunch, merienda, pica-pica, pulutan, dinner, and no-one-saw-me-take-that-cookie-from-the-fridge-so-it-doesn’t-count. The short gaps in between these mealtimes are spent eating Sky Flakes From the open packet that sits on every desktop. You’re never far from food in the Philippines. If you doubt this, next time you’re driving home from work, try this game. See how long you can drive without seeing food and I don’t mean a distant restaurant, or a picture of food. I mean a man on the sidewalk frying fish balls, or a man walking through the traffic selling nuts or candy. I bet it’s less than one minute.

Here are some other things I’ve noticed about food in the Philippines. Firstly, a meal is not a meal without rice-even breakfast. In the UK, I could go a whole year without eating rice. Second, it’s impossible to drink without eating. A bottle of San Miguel just isn’t the same without gambas or beef tapa. Third, no one ventures more than two paces from their house without baon and a container of something cold to drink. You might as well ask a Filipino to leave home without his pants on. And lastly, where I come from, you eat with a knife and fork.

Filipino FoodHere, you eat with a spoon and fork. You try eating rice swimming in fish sauce with a knife. One really nice thing about Filipino food culture is that people always ask you to SHARE their food. In my office, if you catch anyone attacking their baon, they will always go. “Sir! KAIN TAYO!” (“Let’s eat!”). This confused me, until I realized that they didn’t actually expect me to sit down and start munching on their boneless bangus. In fact, the polite response is something like, “No thanks, I just ate.” But the principle is sound-if you have food on your plate, you are expected to share it, however hungry you are, with those who may be even hungrier. I think that’s great. In fact, this is frequently even taken one step further. Many Filipinos use “Have you eaten yet?” (“KUMAIN KA NA?”) as a general greeting, irrespective of time of day or location.

Some foreigners think Filipino food is fairly dull compared to other Asian cuisines. Actually lots of it is very good: spicy dishes like Bicol Express (strange, a dish named after a train); anything cooked with coconut milk;anything KINILAW; and anything ADOBO. And it’s hard to beat the sheer wanton, cholesterholic frenzy of a good old-fashioned LECHON de leche feast. Dig a pit, light a fire, add 50 pounds of animal fat on a stick, and cook until crisp. Mmm, mmm… you can actually feel your arteries constricting with each successive mouthful. I also share one key Pinoy trait —a sweet tooth. I am thus the only foreigner I know who does not complain about sweet bread, sweet burgers, sweet spaghetti, sweet banana ketchup, and so on. I am a man who likes to put jam on his pizza. Try it! It’s the weird food you
want to avoid.

Soup Number 5In addition to duck fetus in the half-shell, items to avoid in the Philippines include pig’s blood soup (DINUGUAN); bull’s testicle soup, the strangely-named “SOUP NUMBER FIVE” (I dread to think what numbers One through four are); and the ubiquitous, stinky shrimp paste, BAGOONG, and it’s equally stinky sister, PATIS. Filipinos are so addicted to these latter items that they will even risk arrest or deportation trying to smuggle them into countries like Australia and the USA, which wisely ban the importation of items you can smell from More than 100 paces.

Then there’s the small matter of the blue ice cream. I have never been able to get my brain around eating blue food; the ubiquitous UBE leaves me cold.

And lastly on the subject of weird food, beware: that KALDERETANG KAMBING (goat) could well be KALDERETANG ASO (dog)… The Filipino, of course, has a well-developed sense of food.

Here’s a typical Pinoy food joke: “I’m on a seafood diet. “What’s a seafood diet?” “When I see food, I eat it!”

Filipinos also eat strange bits of animals—the feet, the head, The guts, etc., usually barbecued on a stick. These have been given witty names, like “ADIDAS” (chicken’s feet); “KURBATA” (either just chicken’s neck, or “neck and thigh” as in “neck-tie”); “WALKMAN” (pigs ears); “PAL” (chicken wings); “HELMET” (chicken head); “IUD” (chicken intestines), and “BETAMAX” (video-cassette-like blocks of animal blood).

Yum, yum. Bon appetit.


25 mga puna so far
Mag-iwan ng puna

Nice post… I like balut indeed, but I don’t think i can eat balut gain after seeing the photo attached here.. haha!

Komento ni raine

Hi Raine! Hahaha! Yeah… I eat balut also but I actually stared at the pic as I was posting it and it kinda made me squirm… reminded me of “rodents”… Aaarrrgghhh…
It’ll probably take me a while to somehow erase the image from my head. I guess it’s “sabaw” and “dilaw” na muna for now. 😛
Oh… thanks for dropping by nga pala. Hope you frequent this site more in the future! Hope to receive contributions to the site from you as well. 🙂

Komento ni Chuckster

i cant help but squirm…sad aborted chick..arrggghhh

Komento ni oboids

hi oboids… have you tried balut na? don’t knock it till you try it… it’s actually good…! But then again… maybe it’s acquired taste. 🙂

Komento ni Chuckster

i can only eat 16-days balut. otherwise, magtyaga na lang sa penoy.

Komento ni junanteola

Uy… Jun! I’m starting to enjoy penoy instead of balut. Parang mas masarap kasi maraming dilaw! kulang lang sa sabaw… hehehe 😛

Komento ni Chuckster

yeah, i enjoy eating the yolk on penoy, too. yung puti kasi parang kumakain ka ng tsinelas…
at masarap nga ang sabaw ng balut. pero may kwento jan…
ba’t daw masabaw ang balut?
eh kasi, yung sisiw di pwedeng mag “maam may i go out”, kahit ihing-ihi na… 🙂

Komento ni junanteola

Hehehe… tsalap pala ang wee-wee ng sisiw… mainit-init pa! Bwehehehe!

Komento ni Chuckster

I’ve read this article before but still its hilarious reading it again. Everything the author pointed out were funny but yet its all true. That’s uniquely Pinoy.

Komento ni jaypeelo

Hey there jeypeelo… Yeah, true… uniquely pinoy talaga. 🙂

Komento ni Chuckster

it’s my first time here … nice site 😀 I’m a “penoy” guy as well. of course masarap yung sabaw ng balut pero dilaw lang naman kasi hilig ko kainin 😛

Komento ni zerovoltage

Hi zero!
Thanks for the compliment! Glad you liked the site… help spread the word if you can… tell your friends and family. Baka may maicontribute ka in the future… send them in ok? Hope to see you here more often! 🙂

Komento ni Chuckster

O Gee! that looks like a dead baby T-Rex!

Thanks for the laugh!

Komento ni Fendi

eeeeeewwwwwww! my gosh! balut is my favorite but i never realized that is the way it looks. why do you have to post it?

Komento ni nicko

Hi Nicko…
Well, if balut is indeed your favorite then I guess it’s about time you find out what it is you’re REALLY eating. I guess you can’t really say it’s a favorite until you know something inside and out. Then, again… the pic posted above is that of probably an “older” balut… most baluts naman especially the ones you call “balot sa puti” are not as “developed” as what you see on the image… hehehe.
Thanks for dropping by! Hope to see you more often here! 🙂

Komento ni Chuckster

wow, that looks aweful!!Ha ha ha! But yummy!

Komento ni Tingting Rimart

eww thats sick i can barly think about it. i love ducks, infact im incubating 5 right now…

Komento ni abby shacher

oh oh ones hatching!!!

Komento ni abby shacher

I ate balut and people seen me eating it but discreetly i throw the sisiw out. some says you wont enjoy balut with eating it.. for me its a real waste of money if i vomit it out after tasting that poorly aborted duck.

Komento ni Jesi

nice article 😀 sakto sa description ha. still, you can’t make me eat the sisiw in the balut. nice site 😀

Komento ni gandadyosa

nice is culture…. you’ll be able to understand more about certain culture through the food/s they eat. “,

Komento ni kimmy

you my friend is the epitomy of a FOB.
have a nice day.

Komento ni tarantado

I’ve seen this one on Sir Bob Ong’s book. Nice post 🙂

Komento ni maru_chan

I just want to know bakit kailangang magpst ng something irritating about Filipinos? Do you want to help sa pagbabago ng Pilipinas? Sana nga ganoon ang intensyon mo because kun wala kang masasabing maganda about Filipinos better not say anything..

PS NO offence ito huh.. Huwag kang magagalit.. I am just curious

Komento ni angelironfist

panalo ang balut na yun!
parang ang sarap tuloy kumain ng buhay na dinosaur na lang!

Komento ni Lycurgus

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