“If you are going to a destination where the food might be more exotic than usual, always err on the side of caution.” -Stefanie Powers
There has never been any doubt that the Philippines has an incredibly diverse food scene.
In fact, it can even be argued that the country is a melting pot of several food staples all around the world. After all, you do not get to be a colony of Spain for a century and trade with the Chinese without having a few food derivatives from them. While the Philippines is in by no means a food mecca, it does have its fair share of food staples that are sure to wow tourists and impress travelers. For those individuals who have made their trip into a “foodventure” seeking to try out only the best Filipino epicurean delights and gastronomic offers, then a food trip in Pampanga might be apt. However, if testing your grit, nerve and boundaries for unconventional tastes are what you have in mind, then perhaps sampling some of the Philippines more exotic food offerings might be more of your speed.
In any case, if you have a distinct flavor for the unknown and unusual, then you would be wise to include the exotic Filipino food below in some of your eating itineraries:
To begin the list, let us go with a dish that not even most locals would try. Best eaten raw or kinilaw-style (dipped in vinegar) in Filipino dialect, Tamilok is a wood worm mollusk found in the mangroves. Typically consumed by travelers in Palawan, sampling this delicacy is sure to test your fortitude when it comes to eating rather exotic food. You should never leave Palawan without at least tasting this dish as it would make your trip all the more memorable and enjoyable.
While your typical serving of French frogs legs no longer holds the same shock value as it did decades ago, the Philippines has offered their own counterpart in the form of stuffed frogs. A well-known Kapampangan specialty, Betutes are deep fried farm frogs stuffed with pork, garlic, and spices. Much like how the French would assert that frogs legs would taste like chicken drumsticks, the Filipinos would also tell you that their local rendition would taste quite like poultry as well. In fact, it might even be more delicious as the harmony of different spices together with the frog meat and pork makes for quite a flavorful dish.
Although this dish is relatively tame compared to the other items on this list, quite a few might take issue in its preparation. A rather popular dish in the Cordilleras of the Philippines, Pinikpikan is a warm and hearty chicken soup dish. What makes this soup fare so exotic is how the chicken was prepared which is through the process of “pikpik” from where the dish got its moniker. “Pikpik” means beating the chicken to death and for some animal rights advocates (or at least ones against animal cruelty), this might be a reason for them to forego the dish altogether. However, it has been said that the dish derives its flavor from its unusual mode of preparation. Apparently, the coagulated blood, burned feathers, the skin and the Etag (cured meat that has been aged underground in earthen jars) contribute to the myriad of flavors in this hearty dish. If you have the stomach (and heart) for it, you might want to give this dish a try.
Balut is the epitome of Filipino exotic food. Not only is it the most popular, but most foreign travelers are quite well-versed about the dish as well. Balut is a fertilized duck egg and is said to have amative capabilities. In fact, locals would tell you that apart from being considered as an aphrodisiac, the delicacy is said to have quite the stimulating effect in men.