Filipino cuisine is influenced by many cultures, mainly Malay, Spanish and Chinese cultures. More recently, influences from the United States, Germany and Japan have made their way into Filipino cooking.
Spain’s culture is one of the most influential on food in the Philippines, with around 80 percent of the food cooked having its roots in Spain. American influences, not as notable as Spain’s, came about with the end of World War II. Canned food was distributed at this time and fruit cocktail became popular, particularly when Filipinos added their own ingredients, namely the jackfruit (langka), coconut (buko), and palm nuts (kaong). These ingredients game it a Filipino “flair.”
The type and flavor of food eaten varies from area to area in the Philippines. The staple food in some areas is rice whereas in others it may be cassava. Although at every Filipino meal, rice is available. The Bicol people of the southernmost portion of Luzon and western Mindanao Muslims are the only groups that extensively use hot peppers in their cooking, although hot peppers are available all over the Philippines.
The most popular meat in the Philippines is pork, with beef and poultry following behind. In the areas where Islam has a strong following, beef and are consumed instead of pork, with is a taboo meat. As a delicacy, the Tagalogs and the Pampanquenos eat frogs, although most Filipinos don’t consume them.
As with every other aspect of Filipino food, depending on the region, either saltwater of freshwater fish are preferred and are in abundance. Artificially created ponds and rice paddies are where various types of fish are grown on fish farms.
Before outside influences, Filipinos used their hands to eat, but with western influences and the introduction of eating utensils such as knives, forks and spoons, they have adapted their ways. The fork and spoon are the two main utensils of choice, with the spoon used as a knife to tear food into smaller bits.