I'm originally from the Philippines, but have been working in Shanghai for the past year or so. I must be pretty homesick because I couldn't stop grinning like a stupid idiot when I read this article:
"(The following is from a British journalist stationed in the
Philippines. This was written in 1999.)
Matter of Taste
By Matthew Sutherland
I have now been in this country for over six years, and consider myself in most respects well assimilated. However, there is one key step on the road to full assimilation, which I have yet to take, and that's to eat BALUT.
The day any of you sees me eating balut, please call immigration and
ask them to issue me a Filipino passport. Because at that point there will be no turning back. BALUT, for those still blissfully ignorant non-Pinoys out there, is a fertilized duck egg. It is commonly sold with salt in a piece of newspaper, much like English fish and chips, by street vendors usually after dark, presumably so you can't see how gross it is. It's meant to be an aphrodisiac, although I can't imagine anything more likely to dispel sexual desire than crunching on a partially formed baby duck swimming in
noxious fluid. The embryo in the egg comes in varying stages of
development, but basically it is not considered macho to eat one
without fully discernable feathers, beak, and claws.
Some say these crunchy bits are the best. Others prefer just to drink the so-called 'soup', the vile, pungent liquid that surrounds the aforementioned feathery fetus...excuse me; I have to go and throw up now. I'll be back in a minute.
Food dominates the life of the Filipino. People here just love to eat. They eat at least eight times a day. These eight official meals are called,in order: breakfast, snacks, lunch, merienda, merienda ceyna, dinner, bedtime snacks and no-one-saw-me-take-that-cookie-from-the-fridge-so-it-doesn't-count.
The short gaps in between these mealtimes are spent eating Sky Flakes from the open packet that sits on every desktop. You're never far from food in the Philippines. If you doubtthis, next time you're driving home from work, try this game. See how long you can drive without seeing food and I don't mean a distant restaurant, or a picture of food. I mean a man on the sidewalk frying fish balls, or a man walking through the traffic selling nuts or candy. I bet it's less than one minute.