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Food, glorious food! Where else in the world can you sample delectable and tempting delicacies if not in the exotic country of Philippines. It is hardly surprising that Filipino food is often labeled as somewhat strange but in its own way, a unique mixture of eastern and western cuisine. After all, with nearly 400 years of outside influences, the Philippine cuisine is a fascinating blend of Malay, Spanish and Chinese cultures. To the Filipinos, food is important as it is an integral part of local art and culture as well as communal existence.

Unlike its surrounding Asian counterparts that use hot chilies liberally in their dishes, the Philippine cuisine is often labeled as bland and mild. This made Filipino dishes more suitable for those with sedate and sensitive taste buds. As with other Asian countries, rice is their staple food and will be served with most meals. To the Filipinos, simple cooking means fish of different sizes from the sea.

They prefer their fish and other seafood such as crabs, shrimps and shellfish to be as fresh as possible. The freshness of the seafood is often complemented by sauces and spices. In fact, seafood is appreciated at its best when left uncooked - in a vinaigrette (kilawin) matrix, grilled (ihaw or inihaw), and sometimes stuffed with onions wrapped in banana leaf. It is no secret that coconuts are used liberally in creating exotic Filipino dishes. Cooking meat and vegetables using coconut milk create dishes called guinatan. These dishes originated from the Malay side of the Filipino cuisine. Apart from that, coconuts are also great for creating mouth-watering desserts like bibingka (puddings made of ground rice, sugar and coconut milk, baked in a clay oven, topped with fresh, salted duck eggs) and macapuno (thick dessert jam).

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