Eating Manila

“That stuff with the blood in it.” That’s what other Westerners warn you about if tell them you’re going to the Philippines. My boss went on at some length about a variety of blood-based dishes, until I began to wonder if any Filipino food didn’t have blood in it.


As it turns out, the dish is called Dinuguan, and it’s made out of pork. It was a thick stew, almost gel-like, with dark and meaty flavors and hints of chili and vinegar. It was tasty, though I confess the blood part did put me off a bit.


I expected Kare Kare to involve curry, but in fact it was a rich peanut stew with vegetables, kind of like an African groundnut stew. Yum!


Filipino food relies less on chilis than Indonesian food. Instead of sambal, you’ll often get vinegar and soy sauce on the side.


Vinegar and soy sauce went nicely with this cold half-eggplant with tomato and onion, which I got at a fast-food place. If only McD’s and Burger King served eggplant! That’s a chili sauce on the side, by the way, although as I recall the emphasis was on musky, fermented-fishy flavors as much as on spicy heat.


One problem with blogging too far after the fact is that the details get a bit foggy. I don’t remember what this dish was called, but I’m guessing it was a kind of tapa, which Wikipedia tells us is “a traditional dish of salt-cured beef that is similar to American-style beef jerky.” It certainly wasn’t that salty, but perhaps it was soaked before being cooked up in a sauce. It was a meaty, stick-to-your ribs kind of meal with scrambled egg and rice, served up at another little fast-food joint.

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Author: Trish Anderton

I am a nonprofit communicator, Red Sox fan and amateur streetfoodologist. Once upon a time I worked for the Jakarta Globe & Jakarta Post.

2 thoughts on “Eating Manila”

  1. Thanks, it's nice to be back!

    Yeah, it's funny how food seems to get ingrained before a certain age. If you're not used to eating tripe by the time you're, say, 12, it's tough to get on board with it later. Same with blood, brains, deep-fried skin and other things I've tried here … some of which are pretty tasty, if I could just short-circuit those notions of 'what I eat.'

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