Several reasons why Filipino cuisine is among least preferred worldwide

March 20, 2019 - 6:03 PM
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Charred eggplant
Picture of a charred egglant with chopped tomatoes, a usual Filipino breakfast. (Shape.com/Released)

Despite the international attention it has been getting, Filipino food was ranked among the least popular cuisines in a recent survey conducted by a London-based global market research firm.

YouGov surveyed over 24,000 participants from 24 countries on their most preferred cuisine and Filipino dishes came in among the least favored meals.

It received the lowest mark among the Japanese, whose preference for the Filipino cuisine was only 21 percent.

Australians, on the other hand, had the highest preference of the cuisine at 56 percent, second to the Filipinos themselves.

“We asked people which of 34 national cuisines they had tried and whether they liked or disliked them, with Italian food being the most well-liked. The cuisine received an average popularity score of 84% across the 24 nations we studied,” Matthew Smith, a lead data journalist, reported.

Other least favored cuisines in the world are Saudia Arabian, Finnish and Peruvian.

Filipino cuisine is heavily influenced by different countries such as Spain, the United States, China, India and other Southeast Asian nations.

It is considered the original “Asian fusion” before the concept existed, as stated by Smithsonian Magazine.

Various factors for low rank

A food-oriented blog in July 2016 revealed various reasons as to why Filipino dishes do not seem to appeal to foreigners despite international features about it.

JP Anglo, a chef and patron at Sara Kitchen, noted that “Pinoy ingredients are hard to come by outside of the Philippines.”

“You can’t get tuba, Batwan etc. overseas. Even the lemon grass tastes different,” he shared.

Myke Sarthou, a chef and cookbook author, attributed it to the complexity of the cuisine as a whole.

Filipino food in small plates
A sampling of some of Pinoy Heritage’s small plates served at cocktail bars. (The STAR/Francis Ang)

According to him, Filipino cuisine does not merely mix and match ingredients and different cooking methods of foreign dishes. One must also understand how the “perspectives and philosophies” of various cultures blend as well.

This makes the Filipino cuisine difficult to describe in just a line or two, he said.

Sarthou also claimed that the country lacks the “marketing and business acumen” required to make local dishes popular in a global sense, as well as the Philippines’ lack of support in the agricultural sector.

“To make a cuisine shine globally, it should be backed by a strong agricultural sector which is evidently weak in the country,” the chef said.

A restaurant owner based in New York City attributed it to the Filipinos’ supposed lack of entrepreneurial skills necessary to make the cuisine recognized in the international market.

“We were not raised to be entrepreneurs. We were raised to be doctors, lawyers — risk-averse careers,” Nicole Ponseca said.

She speculated that it might be due to the Filipinos’ sense of shame towards their own cuisine brought about by being heavily colonized for so many centuries.

“That’s why [some restaurants] give the ‘white-man menu’ [to customers] because they think they’re not going to like dinuguan, which is a pork blood stew,” Ponseca said.

“It is because when you’re colonized over so many years, you don’t value your own culture, even though we have so much pride,” she continued.