Seek out dishes, rather than restaurants, when visiting Cebu and Bohol. Meat plays a large role in Filipino cuisine, though it is possible to travel as a vegetarian and even easier if you dabble in fish and seafood. First and foremost on your culinary list should be adobo, a garlicky meat stew laced with peppercorns. Served with rice, this is one of the Philippines’ most famous food exports, and the perfect lunch or dinner.
The other carnivorous, calorific dish to circle, underline and highlight on your gastronomic itinerary is lechón – suckling pig cooked to tender, sticky-skinned perfection over charcoal. Cebu lechón stands out from other varieties thanks to the assortment of herbs (like lemongrass and tamarind) that are stuffed into the meat while roasting. It’s so tasty that the late, great Anthony Bourdain even named Cebu as having the best lechón.
On a hot day reach straight for halo-halo, an icy dessert similar to trifle. You start with a base of crushed ice, then add toppings to taste – traditional additions include sweetened beans, fruit, ube (purple yam), coconut, jelly, syrup and evaporated milk.
Remember the word balut, because you’re either going to want to try it or avoid it entirely. Balut is a fertilised duck egg that contains an embryo between 14 and 21 days old (usually). It’s common across Filippino food markets and is eaten by first cracking the top, sprinkling the broth inside with salt and/or vinegar, drinking it, then progressively peeling the shell and eating the boiled egg inside, leaving the embryo until last.