Food & Drink

Filipino Eating Methods & Dining Etiquette

Written by Patrick
Travel Insurance

Filipinos are known for their love of food.  Aside from nourishment, food is a big part of the Filipino culture and is always present in every event, big or small.

The Filipino dining methods and etiquettes are not totally different from that of other civilizations but it helps to read more about the topic to truly understand and appreciate the culture.  

Utensils

A majority of Filipinos use a spoon and fork when eating but it isn’t unusual to see others using only a spoon.  Table knives and other cutlery complete with table arrangement are not used on a daily basis but are typically reserved for formal dining be it in restaurants or homes during special occasions.

Filipinos are known to eat using their bare hands and that is still practised even up to this day.  It is the traditional way of eating along with using a banana leaf instead of a plate, however, it is typically done at home only or boodle fight style and traditional-themed restaurants.

Chopsticks are also widely used in the country especially when eating Chinese and Japanese foods.

Three Main Meals

Most Filipinos eat three main meals everyday – breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  These three main meals always include rice as the staple.

Breakfast is typically eaten between 6:30 AM to 08:00 AM or before going to school or work.  Rice is commonly partnered with eggs, dried fish, and cured meat, or a combination of pandesal and coffee.

Lunch is often the biggest meal of the day and is usually eaten between 12:00 noon to 1:00 PM.  A cup, or more, of rice is eaten with a main dish (referred to as viand) that is either seafood or meat, soup, and vegetables.  It is then finished with desserts or sweet fruits.  Drinking a bottle of ice cold soft drinks after a hearty meal is common.

Dinner is eaten from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM usually with leftover food from lunch.

READ MORE: Breakfast Foods in the Philippines 

Snacks

In addition to the three main meals, Filipinos eat light snacks at least twice a day – one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  It could be bread or popular street foods such as banana cue, turon, taho, or puto. 

Condiments

Condiments are a constant presence in several dining tables in the Philippines.  The most common are soy sauce with calamansi, banana ketchup, vinegar with chili, and fish sauce with calamansi.

Food arrangement on the plate

If you have observed the way Filipinos eat, you will notice how the food is arranged on the plate.  The rice is centered at the bottom of the plate close to the eater while the viands are arranged around it.  This makes it easy for them to push a bit of viand and a bigger portion of rice towards the spoon.

Dealing with food offers

Filipinos are hospitable people and it shows through their food offers.  When a host offers you food, you can politely turn down the offer by saying you are already full.  However, if the host asks twice or insists, it’s impolite to reject the repeated offers even if you are already full.  Rejecting the food means you do not like or trust the one offering the food.

While eating

Lots of conversation happens at the dining table, over good foods and cold drinks.  But Filipinos are conscious of the way they eat.  Speaking is discouraged when the mouth is full and chewing is done as soundlessly as possible.

Filipinos are not fussy or judgmental hosts.  They would offer you food regardless of your status in life and would even try to give you better than they normally have. By knowing the Filipino eating methods and dining etiquette, you are better prepared on how to respond and behave when invited for a meal.

READ MORE: Food & Drink in the Philippines

About the Author

Patrick

Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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