Pinoy Food Talk!

ever wonder why pinoys leave the last piece of food on the table? apparently it is an asian influence on our dining etiquette. to celebrate blog action day 2011 that celebrates food, i'm posting some quirky pinoy food habits that most of us don't even notice we do.

i don't pretend to be the emily post of pinoy food decorum but it is often prudent to understand the practices in sharing food with pinoys.

1. Unang Pasalubong - this tradition is sadly lost in the present generation. when a guest is invited for the first time to a meal or dinner in a pinoy home, it is customary to bring a gift, preferably food, specifically fruits or dessert. bawal magdala ng tupperware para take out (yes, some people actually bring containers to bring food with them!)

2. Plastic na Ngiti - hosts MUST always appear smiling and gracious in front of guests even when they are literally grabbing their hair in the kitchen screaming at the maids to get things out to the dining area. Guests MUST reciprocate and appear happy and thankful in all situations despite the fact that the food served is just horrendous. acting any other way is just not acceptable and bad manners.

3. Ang Alok na Kumain - if you chance upon a pinoy eating (anything), he MUST offer you to eat with him. if you sit down and ACTUALLY eat with him, that's considered as bad manners. you're not supposed to accept the offer as it was just a "show" to appear gracious and it is your responsibility not to be overbearing. you should decline by saying "Salamat, busog pa po ako." or "Salamat, kakakain ko lang" kahit na galing ka pa sa byahe mula aparri hanggang jolo. As a guest, you must precisely come during breakfast, snack, lunch, or dinner time but must refuse the offer to eat, which leads me to the next item...

4. Ang Unang Tanggi - based on the previous item, the guest MUST decline the offer. if the host insist again, you must make a show of letting the host know that you don't want to be a bother, if he insists for a third time, it is safe to assume he really wants you to share in the meal.

5. Eating Schedule - pinoys eat at least five times a day, desayuno (breakfast), segundo almuerzo (second breakfast), almuerzo (lunch), el bocadillo (snack), la cena comida (dinner). err i forgot, after dinner snack, midnight snack and milk before sleeping. make sure you time your visits during these IMPORTANT eating schedules!

6. Ang Esnack! - when you visit the home of a pinoy, they must serve you "pampalamig" or refreshment, otherwise known as isnak, esnack or snack in english. tinapay and softdrink is often the standard. YOU must bite a little, leaving it untouched is considered bad manners. again, you must make the host feel gracious! read rule number 2. the only excuse is if you're allergic to the food being served.

7. Huwaaayt, huwwwayt a minute! - dining formality dictates that the host must start the meal. NEVER ever make the mistake of eating ahead of the host. this applies to a sit down dinner scenario, in a fiesta or buffet event, the host traditionally must be the LAST to eat and ensure that everyone has already eaten before they can get their own food.

8. Ako Ang Taya! - restaurant etiquette is also very complex and starts with who invites who for the meal. modern pinoys set the expectation of a dutch treat if they wish for everyone to pay for their own food. if you invite people to a meal, they generally expect YOU to pay for the whole buffet. Furthermore, when ordering, the host should be the one to make the order for the group as you need to understand that he is working on a budget. If the host asks the guests to order from the menu, remember this, NEVER order anything that is more expensive than the most expensive dish he ordered. so kung value meal sa jollibee ang order, siguraduhin mo wag mag Champ. bastos daw yan.

9. Check Please - yes, pinoy use "check" in lieu of "bill" when they want to finish the meal. if they ask if anyone wants dessert AFTER he has asked for the bill, you must refuse. he is supposed to be gracious and generous, and it is your responsibility to be a grateful guest. furthermore, when the host asks for the bill, you must make a show of protest and offer to pay the bill. forgetting to make the offer is considered rude despite knowing for a fact that the host is expected to pay for the meal (see rule #8)

10. The Award Goes To - when having a meal in a formal setting, you must remember that the tiyan ng bangus (milkfish belly) aka the most delicious part of the dish, is reserved for the most senior and respected member on the table - no one makes the first move on this choice part! This doesn't necessarily mean the host, but can be the guest-of-honor. As guest of honor, you must show "hiya" by taking the flesh from the buntot (tail) of the fish or the toughest part of the meat. The host must personally take the best part and make a flourish of gestures to place it on your plate.

11. Pasensya Na - the host must show humility by apologizing for the quantity, quality and kind of food being offered. the guest must constantly reassure the host that the food is absolutely delicious even when the food was really bad. if everyone is paying for their own meal, feel free to complain about the food but do it in private.

12. Ang Huling El Bimbo - title yan for a song, but i'm referring to the last morsel on the table. old tradition require that the last morsel should be left, no matter how small the piece. get it and risk being called "patay gutom" aka, dead hungry. if you MUST get it, you must ask everyone if they still want the piece, and etiquette dictates that they MUST say no since you were the one who first asked the question.

I'm ending  this post with a video clip from the "joy luck club", though they are not pinoy, the chinese left a very strong influence on how we eat our food and the manner by which we consume our pagkain.

if you see yourself in this post, smile :)


Barefoot Lady said…
#10 reminds me of a scenario from Noli Me Tangere. During a dinner hosted by Kapitan Tiago, Padre Salvi (or Damaso?) was served the least-liked part, the neck(?) instead of the pecho(?).
Cacho said…
rizal was ahead of his time, he wanted to show that despite the fact that the friar is supposed to be the honored guest, they are considered as salot :) or the lowest in the guest list. cool trivia! thank you amiga for visiting!
AJ said…
Kaw na - si Emily Post. Tawa ako ng tawa kasi very Pinoy talaga. Now I realize how rude I am kasi di ko ginagawa ang karamihan sa list, esp #3 and #12, hahaha! PG talaga ako.

Galing, Cacho! Btw, what's world blog action day? Clueless, hehe.
Cacho said…
nako aj, ako rin, natatawa sa pinag gagawa ko while composing this post last night! syempre i wanted to post before 12AM para umabot sa world blog action day, - theme kasi for 2011 eh food! nakita ko din may post ka about indonesia :) ang hirap mag research nito ha?!
Sissym said…
Congratulations on your article about food!
Our participation is very important to the world.
It is a great pleasure to come meet you!

Kisses from Rio de Janeiro.

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