No matter how great we think it is, the Filipino food or cuisine stays an underdog for most people worldwide. Either they don’t know about it, or they simply don’t like its taste and style. But surprisingly, it is more about the former than the latter one.
Now, how come that people from different places in the world don’t know much about Filipino cuisine? Why isn’t it as popular as Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Thai or some other cuisines from our Southeast Asian neighbors?
Here is why the Filipino Food Remains Unpopular for People Worldwide
Small Number of Successful Filipino Restaurants Abroad
Yes, sure, you often hear about world-class Pinoy chefs. But it is hard to make a good list of Filipino restaurants that serve authentic Filipino dishes to other parts of the world.
There are many restaurants who attempt to try. However, most don’t last long because of different factors. As a result, restaurants run by Filipinos abroad usually serve little to no Pinoy food in their menu.
And if it’s hard to find a place to eat Filipino dishes, then there’d be a small number of people who actually know what it is.
People Do Not Know Distinct Filipino Dishes
If we’d ask a Filipino, he’d surely say that Adobo, Sinigang or even simple rice is some of the best food from the Philippines. Unfortunately, many people from around the world cannot name any distinct Filipino dish, let alone name one that they have already tasted.
Many would even mistake some Filipino dishes as food from a different country.
Filipino food has unique flavors because of its ingredients. And there are ingredients that are hard to find in other places globally.
The shrimp paste or Bagoong, for example, is somehow difficult to find in the western countries. Unless, of course, you’d spot an Oriental market or shop nearby.
Now, if you can’t find an ingredient you need, you’d probably resort to using artificial mix, right? This is an option, but it is somehow breaking away from traditional Filipino recipes. Artificial food additives do not really bring the exact similar taste of their natural counterpart.
This leads us to another factor that makes Filipino cuisine unpopular abroad.
Shortcut Cooking Method
Another big culprit of the Filipino taste not reaching many people worldwide is the breaking away of chefs and cooks from traditional cooking methods.
As mentioned earlier, artificial additives are considered as options by many nowadays. This brings instant flavor to any dish you’re cooking, as long as you have the right product.
Aside from bringing a somehow different flavor, the over usage of additives is also causing people to become used with shortcut cooking. More and more Filipinos aren’t able to cook authentic recipes using natural ingredients today. And even cooking classes in high schools don’t bat an eye about this concern.
Meaning, if a person from abroad happens to taste a Filipino dish, for example, he’d probably get the flavors of the additives instead of the authentic recipe. And if such a person has a sharp tongue when tasting artificial add-ons, he’d surely end up disliking Filipino dishes.
Westernization of Filipino Dishes
Yes, Filipino food is a natural fusion of Western and Asian cuisines. However, most restaurants are taking this combination of techniques into completely odd levels.
Think of Adobo Burger, Sweet Spaghetti or even Bacon Pandesal. Yes, they bring Filipino taste to other people, but merely bringing an authentic dish could have done the trick. This simply shows that Filipinos want to please others, instead of simply being their own flavor.
Lack of Uniqueness
Next, many food critics actually see Filipino dishes as mere variations of other food in Asia or from the west. This is partially because of our links to Americans, Spaniards, Chinese, Indonesians, Indians and Japanese among other nationalities. As a result, we somehow fail to develop dishes that are 100% ours.
When talking about Japanese cuisine, for example, people from other countries would surely think about sushi. They’d think about noodles or siopao when it is about Chinese, curry when it is about Indian, and pizza or pasta when it is about Italian among others. But when they talk about Filipino cuisine, it is somehow difficult for them to recall a notable dish.
Although this is an advantage for bringing a lot of flavors to the Filipino cuisine, this is somehow serving as a negative factor that makes Pinoy food unpopular. The Philippines has lots of culture from different tribes all over the archipelago, and three invaders had gone through its history. Not mentioning the close ties of Filipinos to its Asian neighbors too.
As a result, a very complicated cuisine that is seemingly not unified enough for foreign people.
How to Make Filipino Food Popular?
Above are the factors on why Filipino food remains an underdog for the global taste. About how we can make it further up the notch, Filipino chefs and cooks shouldn’t hesitate about bringing the flavors of Pinoy dishes to the world. It should be without artificial additives or pretentious combos, but with the use of authentic recipes that we can call ours.