People have varying peculiar taste preferences depending on the taste preference of their country of origin. Some go for hot and spicy foods, some for bland, some for salty. But while an expatriate in these parts, it’s not only worthwhile but sometimes necessary to try out native dishes when one finds oneself in the Philippines. It is often deemed an offense to turn down invitation to taste or eat a native delicacy.
So what do we do?
One of the challenges of the expatriate life is what foods are safe to eat. All native foods are relatively safe, of course, but there are those that don’t mix well with some foreign digestive systems. And when some incompatible chemistry builds up in this, expatriate life becomes sour, to say the least. So here are some tips for choosing safe foods for expatriates.
If one wants to avoid extremely exotic foods (and this is often the case), safe food for expatriates would be a chicken, egg, pork, or beef menu. One can safely try beef or pork Caldereta (spiced beef or pork in melted cheese), vegetable or ground beef or pork omelets, “Sinigang” (pork or beef sour soup with vegetables), “Menudo” (pork and liver cubes in heavy tomato sauce), “Adobo” (spiced pork or chicken), or “Apritada” (beef, pork or chicken with potato and chili in tomato sauce). They’re not only safe foods but very delectable to make any expatriate’s life like heaven on earth.
Watch out for pork dishes like “Binagoongan,” “Pinakbet,” “Dinakdakan,” and “Kinilaw.” The first two are cooked with preserved fish or shrimp; the other two are often not well cooked—even raw—but taste good enough for one to think they’re cooked.
Hot or spicy safe foods for expatriates: “Bicol Express,” “Bopis,” “Paksiw,” “Mechado,” “Sisig,” and “Ginataang Sili.” These are all well cooked pork or beef cuisines that would brighten an expatriate life anywhere in the archipelago. Bicol Express is crunchy pork and long chili servings in thick coconut milk, and Paksiw is roasted pork cooked in rich and thick liver sauce (there’s a fish variety with long chili cooked in vinegar). Mechado is tender beef loin with chili in very thick and rich tomato sauce, Sisig is super hot meat or fish flakes, and Ginataang Sili is chili cooked in coco milk.
For bland tasting native dishes, foods safe for expatriates are “Pangat” and native sautéed vegetable dishes. Pangat is fish boiled in tomatoes. If one goes for sandwiches, native rice cakes will suffice.
Expatriate life need not be spoiled by worries about safe foods. Ample varieties of native foods safe for expatriates line up menus.