The Exotic Foods in the Philippines
The pictures should be approached with caution and this is not suited for the fainthearted.
The Philippines is endowed with natural resources and numerous destinations that are at par best with the best. The country is also blessed with foods that are truly delectable. The country is one of the top exporters of delicious produce such as bananas, mangoes and pineapples. In addition, the livestock and poultry industry in the country is thriving and doing well. The country is also surrounded with water therefore it has access to the bountiful seafood.
The Philippines is indeed one of the wealthy nations in terms of food products emanating from various sources. But the country is also rich in strange and bizarre foods as well and they are not only considered exotic but also delicacies.
These odd foods can give anyone a love-hate relationship, in other words, it will give a nasty experience or good taste and it depends who will try them. Tourists here especially those whose are heart are not weak will certainly try those exotic foods for the sake of adventure or curiosity or perhaps just to please their local hosts.
My wife which was born in the urban area where farming is their way of life help me dish out this list of treats. She tasted all of these and I hope you will be able to taste them too, although it will take tonnes of guts doing it.
Here are the animals that are edible and can be tasty or can give anyone turning their stomach upside-down:
These are not the rats that are commonly found in local houses. They thrive on the farm lands and many consider them as very clean. In fact my wife loves to eat them and she would confess that rats taste like chicken. Farm rats which are also a good source of protein can be cooked with coconut milk which is called in the Philippines as “ginataang daga,” or with tamarind which is called “sinampalukang daga.” Farm rats can also be cooked into adobo or simply deep-fried with breading to make it taste real good.
Another animal that tastes like chicken are the frogs. These green creatures can be cooked the same way as the rats mentioned earlier, although it can be roasted and made into “rellenong palaka” or stuffed frogs. By the way “palaka” is the Filipino word for frog.
A farmer’s favorite crickets are rich in nutrients and it is juicy and flavorful. Everyone who tasted a dish made up of crickets here said that is tastes better than chicken. To capture these insects farmers would put a marker on an area where there is a good concentration of crickets. The farmers will then pour water in the area and dance, this will force the crickets to get out of their lair and eventually will be captured one by one. Pinocchio with his Jiminy will certainly not have a good time in the farm lands of the country.
A delicacy which is enjoyed thoroughly in the northern part of the Philippines is the grasshoppers. The grasshoppers are considered nuisance for they can bring plague or eat the farmer’s crops, the farmers have devised a way to get even, that is, to get rid of the feet and wings of the poor insects then cooked them with salt and seasonings. Bon Appétit everyone and experience how John the Baptist of the scriptures feels when he munched on the grasshoppers. The grasshoppers tastes like shrimp.
Another food that definitely tastes like chicken for the nth time are the bats. Although they can look fearsome according to my wife the bats are best cooked in adobo or fried and they can also leave you a great tang on your taste buds. The bats can be boiled using various flavorings and this is considered a delicacy all over Asia.
Beetle and Beetle Larvae
The beetle and its larvae are also considered delicacies here in the Philippines. The beetle larvae can be roasted, cooked in adobo or sauteed with salt and seasonings. These are rich in protein and juicy and the tenderness of these humble insects will truly leave a good taste to the local folks here. The beetles which is also called "salangubang" on the other hand, are usually roasted as it emits a foul smell to me. The cooked beetle is crisp and juicy can be accompanied with hard liquor.
The beetle larvae cooked in adobo. Video from YouTube.
Farm Snails (not the Taiwanese variant this is poisonous)
Best cooked with coconut milk this kind of cuisine is popular all over the country. I tasted this and it is quiet difficult to eat the flesh of the snail. But there is a technique to extract the meat out of its shell which is hitting the rear of the snail with fork and blow some air on it. You can now use your fork to get the flesh.
Snakes and Pythons
Snakes and pythons also taste like chicken when cooked in an adobo dish or when grilled or roasted. Caution is made especially when dealing with snakes since they are laced with deadly venoms. I recall a story that my father cooked python adobo for his nieces and nephews. They thoroughly enjoyed the dish and even swore that it tastes like chicken. And when the meal was over, my father told them that he used pythons on his dish and at a blink of an eye his nephews and nieces were seen having series of nausea and vomiting wahehehe.
Monkeys are hunted and eaten in rural mountainous areas of the Philippines where they are abundant. Various types of cuisine can be cooked with monkeys just like the other usual animals. My colleague even tells me about traps to capture them. Of all the exotic animals that are eaten in the Philippines I think I will thumb this down since it bears similarities with humans like having some tears and they cry so loud when you are about to kill them for a meal. In other countries in Asia the monkey's brain is eaten raw which is so cruel.