Philippine cuisine has been influenced by Chinese, Malay, Spanish, Mexican, American, and Indian cooking. The staple of Filipino food is rice, usually served with pig, seafood, chicken, and/or native fruits, and the ever-present dipping sauces.
Bars are everywhere. Outside strictly Muslim areas in the south, drinking is basic to Filipino social life, and vast quantities of beer, gin, and rum are consumed. Native rums like Tanduay are good: five-year-old brands are worth the modest premium. Local gin and whisky are cheap but inferior. The hot climate is conducive to beer drinking, and the ubiquitous San Miguel is excellent. Competition comes from Asia breweries. Manila has numerous open-air beer gardens.
Several kinds of homemade beverages are prevalent in rural areas. Tuba (coconut wine) is common in coconut-growing areas. Gatherers climb nutless trees twice a day to collect the sap emanating from the lopped-off, growing tip of the tree in bamboo tubes. The fresh sap is sweet and nonalcoholic; allowed to ferment, it becomes sour and mildly alcoholic and is sometimes dyed with mangrove bark. Tuba can also be made from the sap of buri and nipa palms. In prime coconut provinces, such as Laguna and Quezon, the sap is also distilled into lambanog, a potent liquor. The Ybanag of the Cagayan Valley make layaw, a very strong corn spirit. In the mountain provinces of Northern Luzon, rice is fermented to form tapuy (rice wine). The Kalingas and Ilocanos are noted for basi, a sugarcane wine; at its best, it's deliciously smooth. Wine from grapes is produced at vineyards in Cebu and Ilocos.
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This page modified January 2007
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