Ask most Filipino friends to come out for a meal and enjoy something special, mostly they will have a disappointed look on their faces when you even suggest that they do not have rice.
Rice is the staple diet and it fills stomachs. It is also a must have product and is even addictive.
The arguments about rice being good or bad is another story, and several experts will tell you just how bad too much rice is for you, especially in terms of Diabetes.
I have always struggled to find and enjoy Filipino food and I try my hardest if I do find something to avoid the rice. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy in the west a great Curry and rice, or rice maybe two or three times a month. But, let’s be honest the rice is of a vastly higher quality and bears no resemblance to the stodge that appears on most plates here.
My rice has to be separated and mix with the food on the plate.
Here, in the Philippines the rice is so wet and stodgy that you can put a fork into it and it will just stay there forever. This is such at odds with other countries nearby in Asia, like Thailand and Malaysia, but as mentioned before the Philippines food has little in common with its neighbours and for many travelers falls short of expectations.
One Christmas some of us invited six local friends for a real Christmas dinner. The works, including Turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes and all the vegetables. Needlessly to say it took a lot of scouting to find everything and a long time preparing. On the day only half the people showed-normal Philippines. The rest were polite and enjoyed it, but none were satisfied at all. After several minutes of investigations, it was found to be the lack of rice had really upset our guests.
Quickly we made up a bowl of hot steaming wet sloppy rice and the day changed into merriment. There is no way they could have gone without rice on that day, and perhaps any other day. The turkey waited as they went back time and time again for the rice.
These same friends would choose eateries where the word unlimited rice were shown. This meant more to them than the quality of the rest of food on show. Unlimited rice was a hypnotic lure, and moreover it really is loved and enjoyed.
I will just have to acccept my friend love their rice. For me that is really not going to happen.