Tag Archives: Filipino food

Food Serving Sizes in the Philippines: 1 Serving for Filipinos is 1/2 for Americans

My American husband and I like watching “Headlines” segment on Monday night episodes of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  On one episode, someone sent Leno a Chinese restaurant menu.  On one of the combo items, it indicated,

No. of Servings:  Asian: 4.  American: 2.

It’s funny, but there is some truth to that.  In the US, food portions are large, such that when Filipinos travel or move to the US for the first time, they are shocked at what they would consider humungous portions, and tend to order more than they could consume. Conversely, in the Philippines, food servings at restaurants are smaller, sometimes even half, the size in the US. An American might have to place two orders of a certain entree to fill him up.

With pizzas, for example, a “family” size here in the Philippines is “regular” size in the US.  “Regular” here is “small” or “solo” in America.  And “personal” size here is non-existent in the states.  When I ask a waiter how big the portions are on a certain dish, he would say, “For one to two people” if I’m with my husband.  But if I’m with other Filipinos, say my mom or dad, the waiter would say, “Three to four”, for the same dish.

The first time my husband ordered a “small” Frosty at Wendy’s, we knew it was going to be smaller than the small size in the US.  But we didn’t expect it was going to be this small:

Wendy's "Small" Frosty

It was the tiniest Frosty I had ever seen, the size of a shot glass, and as tall as a dollar bill. It was not enough for my husband, but he didn’t feel like falling in line again to order a bigger size.  We learned our lesson.  After that, we asked to be shown how big cups are every time we go to a new fast food.

The not so desirable quality of Filipino food in the Philippines

Filipino food in America is not as good as Filipino food in the US. It’s kind of ironic. But that is what we found out in our stay here. And why is it not as good? Because good food is only as good as its ingredients could make it.

Back in the US, my American husband really loved Filipino food. And how I loved cooking for him. But here in the Philippines, he complains that the Filipino food here is somewhat off, sometimes even yucky.

At first I thought that it could just be the way the maid cooked. So, I told the maid to use less oil, less salt, and cut out fatty portions of the meat. The flavor improved, but not by much. Even with me cooking, it still wasn’t as good as the dishes I prepared in the US. Eventually, we discovered that main culprit was the quality of the ingredients, more especially local meats.

Meat here is generally more fatty and tougher. Chicken is slimy and fatty even the leaner potions like breast meat. Whether you buy a premium brand from the grocery or from the wet market, or palengke, it’s still fatty. And when you try to fry it, it easily becomes tough. A bit pricier “native” chicken is less fatty, but it’s also tastes a bit more earthy.

Pork meat, is somewhat lighter in color as that in the US, and it’s marbled all throughout with a web like whitish pattern more prominently. I had to keep skimming the top of a stew or soup as fat continuously rises to the surface.

Beef is the worst. It is really really really bad. With cartilage intertwined with tough stringy meat, that you might end up spitting it out after trying to chew it. Even with pressure cooking, it is still tough. (I read an entry from an expat that he had to put his dog on a diet because it got fat, as its caretaker was feeding it beef caldereta stew.) Recently, we tried out an established restaurant at SM Mall which serves grilled steaks. The outside has a weird grayish brown color. And the steak was bone-dry.

It’s not the cook’s fault that the food turns out not as good as we would expect. I think the chefs here are the best when it comes to cooking Filipino food, but they could only do so much considering the quality of the meat they have to work with.