Fiesta is a big part of Filipino culture. It’s so big that every town, city, and even barangay, the smallest local government unit in the country, holds a fiesta. Fiesta is the time when the whole community celebrates something, be it religious or historical in nature. Religious in a sense that it is the feast day of the community’s patron saint or to commemorate the miraculous appearance of that said saint. Some fiestas are celebrations of founding anniversaries, as thanksgiving for bountiful harvest, or to showcase the town or city’s products in the hopes of improving the economy.
Fiesta celebrations involve various activities which include dancing, foot parade, pageants, exhibits, games, and many others. But despite the varying reasons for celebrating fiestas and differing ways how a fiesta is celebrated, there is one thing that remains constant – the overflowing of food.
The Filipino fiesta is not complete without food – lots of it. During fiestas, almost every household in town goes all out to prepare food for family and friends who are coming to join the celebration. Various Filipino dishes are spread out on the table for everyone to partake but here are the most commonly prepared fiesta foods…
Filipinos love their adobo so it is always on the table especially during celebrations including fiesta. Every region has its own version but generally, it is made of chicken, pork, or both, stewed with vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, and herbs for modern twist or achuete (annatto seeds) in some versions. Another adobo version uses asparagus beans (sitaw) as the main ingredient but adobong sitaw is not usually prepared during fiestas.
Kare-kare is known for its distinct savory sauce made of crushed peanuts and toasted ground rice. The main ingredient of the dish is oxtail and sometimes tripe. It also contains vegetables including eggplant, asparagus beans, banana blossoms, and Chinese cabbage. Onions and garlic add flavor to the dish and it is colored by annatto seeds (achuete). Kare-kare is eaten with steamed rice and shrimp paste (bagoong).
Introduced by the Chinese in the early days, pancit is one of the most popular foods in Filipino cuisine and a favorite in various occasions including fiesta. It’s main ingredient is noodles mixed with vegetables and chicken or pork. It comes in several variations but the most popular variations are pancit luglug, pancit palabok, and pancit bihon. These variations are cooked almost the same way but vary in the noodles used.
Different Kinds of Barbecue
You can find barbecue almost anywhere in the Philippines. It is being sold in restaurants, food stalls in malls, small eateries in town, and along the streets. To cook barbecue Filipino style, the meat is marinated in a mixture of calamansi, salt, pepper, and garlic, then grilled over hot coals while basted with annatto seeds (achuete) oil. In addition to pork and chicken, offal like intestines (isaw), liver, and blood are used as well.
Bulalo is a soup dish made of beef shanks and bone marrow slow cooked in water, fish sauce, onions, and peppercorns, and later on added with vegetables such as pechay or cabbage and corn on the cob. Potatoes or carrots can also be added. Like most main dishes in the country, bulalo is often eaten with rice.
The mouth-watering crispy pata is made of pig trotter (culinary term for pig foot) or knuckles boiled and deep fried to perfection. It is often served with a dipping sauce which is commonly a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, calamansi, and chili.
A whole roasted pig, locally called lechon, on the table is a common sight not only during fiestas but also other celebrations like birthdays, weddings, reunions, and many other occasions. To cook lechon, a whole suckling pig is skewered on a bamboo pole that is placed over the charcoal and cooked for several hours in a rotisserie fashion. Cebu is known to have the country’s best lechon.
Lumpia is not only one of the popular fiesta foods, it is actually a favorite in almost every Filipino celebration. Lumpia is a spring roll wherein a thin pastry skin called lumpia wrapper is filled with sauteed minced meat and chopped vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, and bean sprouts. Lumpia has two other versions called lumpiang shanghai and fresh lumpia. Lumpiang shanghai uses ground pork and minced carrots only while fresh lumpia uses tofu, potato, and sometimes sweet potato in addition to pork and carrots. Fresh lumpia isn’t fried but is equally delicious.
Morcon and Embutido
Morcon and embutido are stuffed sausages often confused from the other because they look almost the same. The only difference is the way they are cooked as morcon is cooked through braising while embutido is cooked through steaming or baking. Morcon is made of beef while embutido is a combination of ground pork and grated carrots and stuffed with hotdogs and boiled egg.
Kaldereta is a stew commonly made of goat meat but beef, pork, and chicken can be used as well. It also includes bell pepper, carrots, and potatoes as well as tomato sauce and liver paste for the sauce.
READ MORE: Popular Main Dishes in the Philippines