Food is an important part of Filipino culture, so much so that it is customary to greet someone with “have you eaten yet?” instead of “how are you?” Eating and eating out are favorite Filipino pastimes. A typical Filipino diet may consist of up to six meals a day: breakfast (almusal), lunch (tanghalian) and dinner (hapunan). However, Filipinos cannot do without merienda (mid-morning and mid- afternoon snacks). And central to every Filipino gathering is a bountiful selection of food. Food becomes an expression of hospitality and friendship — so the more food available, the more “love” is expressed.

Filipino cuisine has evolved over time from its original Malay roots. Today it includes a potpourri of Spanish, Chinese, American, Indian, and Japanese influences.

Filipino cuisine is also a buffet spread of various specialties across different provinces and regions, from the Ilokanos’ pinakbet (vegetables stewed in fish paste) to the Bicolanos’ laing (a fiery dish of greens and chilies curried in coconut milk) to the always-popular staples like adobo (chicken and pork braised in garlicky soy/vinegar) and kare-kare (oxtail, tripe, and vegetables stewed in peanut sauce).