Tastes of Heaven and Hell: Filipino Cuisine

Food Facts

Where: Philippines, south east asia
Tastes: Pungent, spicy and delicate
Best Dish: 
Birds Nest Soup – one of the top culinary delicacies and most expensive foodstuff in the world
Worst Dish: The smelly Durian Fruit – possibly the world’s first weapon of mass destruction

Durian Fruit

Famously called the fruit the ‘tastes like heaven but tastes like hell,’ Durian disagrees with most western tastebuds for its rank smell (one that most closely resembles a backed up toilet!). Its creamy texture wrapped around the large seeds is considered by many Filipinos along with many Asians, as a delicacy, and tasted creamy and cooling on the tongue when chewed. If you can get beyond the smell, you too may enjoy this Asian delicacy. The fruit is famously banned from planes, buses and even some hotels all over Asia, and has even been the cause of some deaths in large cities when ripening spiky specimens have rolled off highrise apartment blocks before clonking a passer-by on the head, far below.


Originally from the Spanish word for ‘pig’, Lechon is a very popular Filipino dish reserved for special occasions. A full grown pig is prepared and spit roasted while basted the crispy skin and meat is relished by Filipinos and many restaurants in Manila serve up this dish for individual servings or for a wedding party. A whole animal can cost more than $200 US dollars and some special occasions are not considered special without it. You can also taste the meat by ordering a plate of rice.

Birds Nest Soup

Climbers brave their lives to collect the white and black birds nests of a swallow that lives in Southeast Asia. El Nido, or ‘the nest’ is the centre of this trade that sells just 100 grams for $100 US dollars. Its said to be an aphrodisiac and sells well in the Chinese markets of Hong Kong; white is prized over the other variety, red. The price is not only high economically as each year some of the climbers die from falls off the rickety bamboo ladders.


This food is simply a ducks egg embryo, and is eaten at night. It too is an aphrodisiac, and as a much cheaper alternative to birds nest soup the food is popular with filipinos across the country.

More Information

Filipino Food Glossary


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