Filipino Food Fiesta
In all Filipino celebrations, traditional Filipino food will never go missing. A lot of food is served most especially during fiestas. Although originally a Catholic practice, anyone can participate in fiesta celebrations. It is also normal for people to go around and eat for free Filipino fiestas are celebrated in honor of the patron saint of the town. There is a pre-designated schedule for the day of the particular saint. During this day, the town plaza usually holds fair and contests. Most houses also have an “open house” for friends and even strangers. They invite them for loads of Filipino food.
I personally have never seen more food in my life than when a fiesta happens in town. Most people serve as much as they can. This is to give thanks to the bountiful year that they received and to ask the patron saint to intercede for them in granting prayers.
During a fiesta, your house might serve food, but you may also go from one house to another to eat without any cost. This act is called Pamimiyesta, and is commonly practiced by teenagers and young adults.
Fiestas usually have the same Filipino food served. Each house may cook their specialty, but most houses have the same foods. These foods are usually reserved for fiestas because they take time to cook. Here are the most common ones you might see.
Lechon. Lechon is the national food of the Philippines (it’s not adobo, contrary to popular belief). Lechon is whole roasted pork. People fight over the crispy skin because it is so delicious. If you are watching your health, go easy with the lechon though. It is high in cholesterol. If you do not often eat it though, go ahead! Fiestas are celebrations after all.
Dinuguan. Dinuguan is another pork-based Filipino food. Not all Filipinos eat it. I know many who absolutely hate it. It is small pork cuts cooked in pork blood. It is usually served with puto instead of rice. It takes a very skilled cook to prepare Dinuguan with delicacy. When prepared well, even foreigners enjoy it.
Pancit. Pancit is originally a Chinese recipe. Filipino pancit is stir-fried noodles containing meat (can be pork or chicken) and fresh vegetables (usually cabbage, carrots and beans). It is popular for birthdays too. The noodles are said to be lucky because they would increase the longevity of one’s life.
Lumpiang Shanghai. Another Chinese influence, Lumpiang Shanghai is best coupled with pancit. It is a spring roll stuffed with ground pork, carrots, and onions (mixed well). The mixture is then placed on a thin, white egg crepe
Inihaw na Bangus. The national fish of the Philippines is the bangus. Inihaw na bangus is grilled milkfish. The mid portion of the fish is usually cut and stuffed with chopped onions, tomatoes, chillies and ginger. Then, it is sewn and wrapped in banana leaves and grilled. It is served with rice and dipped in soy sauce with calamansi (local small lime fruit).
Kare-kare. Another time-consuming Filipino food, Kare-kare is a Filipino version of the Spanish Callos. It is beef tripe or ox tail tenderized and cooked with coconut milk, peanut butter and soup stock. It also contains local Filipino vegetables like eggplants and Chinese cabbage. It is served with rice.
Bulalo. A soup-based Filipino food, Bulalo is popular to both locals and foreigners. It is made from seasoned beef shank slowly tenderized (usually takes a very long time). After a long time, the soup becomes flavorful and it is cooked with slices of corn and Chinese cabbage. When properly cooked, the meat falls of the bone and melts in your mouth.
Kakanin. There are many varieties of kakanin and native delicacies in the Philippines. They are always present in Philippine fiestas as desserts. The family may choose to serve about two to three types of Kakanin. Kakanin is a rice-based dessert. Examples of kakanin include suman, puto, bibingka, kutsinta, and many more. They may also opt to serve native delicacies like ube or maja blanca.
Sago’t Gulaman. Sago’t Gulaman is a popular drink for Philippine fiestas. Sago’t Gulaman is tapioca pearls and sliced jelly mixed with arnibal (caramelized brown sugar). It is served with lots of ice.
The next time you visit a fiesta, you will surely spot one or more of these foods. Like I said, families decide which foods they would choose to cook depending on their specialty. For instance, my family might choose to cook pancit and dinuguan because these are dishes my mom knows how to make best. Fiestas are nice celebrations to experiment with the different kinds of Filipino food. Just remember to take food in moderation because there’s another house you would visit after the other.