Filipino Food Etiquette: Why Do Filipinos Eat with Their Hands

Filipino food etiquette is all about using your hands. Filipinos eat with their hands because the utensils are often too small to get the job done and because it’s a cultural practice.

If you’re going to be eating Filipino food at any time, you must know how to use your hands properly. Here are some tips on Filipino food etiquette so you can enjoy this delicious cuisine without offending anyone:

Why do Filipinos eat with their hands?

Traditional meal in the Philippines

The way Filipinos eat with their hands has been in the culture since ancient times. The indigenous people of Southeast Asia have always eaten this way.

Then when they were conquered by colonialists from Spain’s colony in Mexico or South America, it became a style that was adopted for many reasons, such as convenience due to not having utensils on hand at all times like forks or spoons.

It is also thought that eating with one’s fingers can be an adaptation because it leaves less room than using chopsticks which are challenging to use while sitting cross-legged on floor mats made out of woven palm leaves over bamboo frames.

This is one of the reasons why Filipinos eat with their hands today, but many popular dishes have been cooked and enjoyed this way since ancient times.

One example would be adobo, a braised meat dish in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black pepper, and bay leaves. The Spanish influence can be seen through the soy sauce, a Chinese import, and the bay leaves used in cooking are from Central America.

Another example would be sinigang or sour soup usually cooked with tamarind, onion, ginger root, garlic cloves, tomatoes, and fish.

The ingredients may vary depending on what can be found locally, like coconuts or other types of fish. The use of tamarind is an import from Southeast Asia, but tomatoes can be traced to Mexico or South America, where it was introduced by Spanish explorers.

It’s hard to say if Filipinos eat this way because they want to show respect for their culture and heritage, as that could also be a non-verbal expression of concern.

It could also be because Filipinos are used to eating this way, and it has been a part of their culture for thousands of years, so it’s what they’re most comfortable with.

  • Filipinos eat with their hands is not new but can be traced back to ancient times where indigenous people in Southeast Asia have always eaten this way.
  • One of the reasons Filipinos eat with their hands is because it’s convenient and leaves less room to use chopsticks when sitting on floor mats while eating.
  • Other dishes that have been cooked in Southeast Asian countries since ancient times are adobo, sinigang, or sour soup, which has Spanish influences like soy sauce and bay leaves.
  • Eating with one’s hands could be a non-verbal expression of respect or because Filipinos are used this style for thousands of years, so it is what they feel most comfortable doing in their culture, heritage, and more.

What is Filipino food etiquette?

Pinoy meal

There are a lot of rules when it comes to eating with your hands.

  • Food is usually eaten by hand and not utensils like forks and knives. If you find yourself on such an occasion where there aren’t enough hands around for the task at hand, then use whatever’s available–a spoon or chopsticks if need be.
  • Don’t eat too fast or talk while eating. Slow down and enjoy your food, as it is often the only meal of the day for many Filipinos. Similarly, don’t chew with your mouth open–it’s considered impolite not to close one’s lips around one’s teeth when chewing on something.
  • Make sure that your hands are clean before you eat. If not, wash them or wipe them with a napkin and then go back to eating.
  • Don’t reach across the table when serving yourself food from other people’s plates–it’s rude and considered an invasion of privacy. Ask permission first if it is okay for you to take their food.
  • Ask before you take someone’s plate or bowl. You may be hungry and want to help yourself, but it is considered an indication of greed in Filipino culture for one person to have multiple plates at once–so if they’re not sharing with you, then don’t try to serve yourself a second portion either.
  • Start eating with your fingers by using the thumb to pick up food. This is how most people eat in Filipino culture–using their hands, and not utensils like forks or knives.”

Which countries eat with hands?

In most countries, people eat utensils like forks and knives because of the risk of bacterial contamination from food touching skin (which is more likely to happen when somebody eats with their hands). However, in some Asian countries such as Japan and Vietnam, it’s common for people to pick up food with their fingers or chopsticks.”

What does eating with hands symbolize?

It symbolizes a person’s willingness to work hard and their humility because they will not be using utensils which are associated with wealth.”

Originally posted on August 9, 2021 @ 4:03 pm

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As a lifelong traveler and founder of, I, Alex Deidda, have always been driven by my passion for exploring new places and cultures.

Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to live in various countries, each offering unique perspectives and experiences.

My love for traveling led me to create, a website and blog dedicated to helping people plan their trips.

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