Most Filipinos like a dessert or two with every meal, be it ripe fruits, sweets or especially prepared treats. The art of making sweets from fruits, rinds, root crops and other foods is also one way of preserving them. Generally, however, Filipinos like desserts because they have a sweet tooth.
Since baking is of recent origin in the Philippines (earthen ovens were known in traditional times but they were too much trouble to use), many Philippine desserts require cooking over an open fire. Eggs, rice flour, coconut milk, sugar and fruits are favorite ingredients in desserts. From Spain, the rich and tasty flans have been adapted to Filipino taste buds. Cakes, tortes, and meringues are of American origin. Luckily, sugar from the cane fields is of plentiful supply in the Philippines. The Filipino loves desserts so much that often, the skill of a cook is measured not by the main dishes she prepares but on the basis of the desserts that she serves at the end of the meal.
In a country where refrigeration or freeze drying is of recent origin, vegetables and fruits are usually eaten while fresh or pickled when they cannot be consumed right away. For salads, rich dressings are usually not used; vinegar, salt, soy sauce, fish sauce or shrimp paste being the usual dressings. Pickles may be sour, sweet, or sweet and sour. Many of the pickling techniques used by Filipinos are of Chinese or Japanese origin.
Because the normal Filipino fare is usually simple, salads and pickles as well as home prepared dips and relishes are used extensively. Broiled or fried fish, meat, or poultry gets a zingy taste with each dipping into a salad or pickle dish. Preservation, therefore, is not the main purpose of pickling in the Philippines. As in most countries, the main object is taste and flavor!
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