Manila Stories and Tips

Infested Rice Timbales and Other Strange Eating Encounters

On my first day in Manila, I ate lunch in the company cafeteria even though I had been amply warned from colleagues who had been to Manila previously about the poor quality of the food. I didnt' want to offend my Manila counterparts on the first day though, so I cheerily agreed to dine in the lunchroom. The trouble was, I had been forewarned of rice timbales littered with bugs and of all kinds of unmentionable meat products, so I suppose I was a bit predisposed to finding the food ineditable. I'm usually pretty good about adventurous eating, but I have to admit, I was eyeing up those rice timbales pretty closely. And sadly, I probably shouldn't have looked so thoroughly b/c there were definite unidentifiable items lurking among the grains. Coupled with that, the rice was served with three different items, none of which were identifiable as anything I'd ever eaten. I tried all three, two strange vegetable dishes, one ominous- looking meat chunk dish, and then basically stuck to the paltry banana that was also included with the meal (sigh).
As the week progressed, the food improved slightly, mostly due to the fact that they ordered my lunch every day so I successfully avoided a repeat trip to the cafeteria. One evening they took me and an American colleague to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised with the food, even though it included shrimp with their heads (and although I know they're supposed to be better that way and that you're supposed to pull the head off and then suck on it,I couldn't bring myself to do it), some strange seaweed, and several vegetables I didn't recognize. They also have a local fish called lapu-lapu that was served whole and which was pretty good. Anway, I was chomping away, happily enjoying the food, when my colleague abruptly stopped eating. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but upon our return to the hotel, he informed me that when the waiter moved our carved pineapple full of fried rice from the serving tray to the table, an army of ants scooted out from it and proceeded to scoot into the other food on the table!!!! So i am fairly sure I've ingested more than a few bugs so far this week!

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