The Philippines is an archipelago of about 7,100 islands with three major regions, Luzon to the north, Mindanao to the south and the Visayas in the middle. Each region have distinct cuisines, and each provinces within the region have their own specialty foods. As a crossroad of trade in the Pacific, Filipino cuisine is influenced by many countries. The main influences come from the Malay (Indonesia and Malaysia), the Arabs, the Chinese, the Spaniards, who colonized the Philippines for more than 300 years and the Americans.
Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the main cooking methods were boiling and cooking meat and vegetables on an open fire or in handmade clay pots. The trade with Arabs introduced spices to the cuisine; while trade with China introduced noodles and lumpia (egg rolls), among others. Many of the Filipino dishes today still bear Spanish names although they may not look exactly like the original dish one may find in Spain. Most of the Spanish dishes were adapted to the ingredients and cooking methods in the islands. The Americans introduced salads, pies, sponge cakes, sandwiches and canned goods.
The Philippine cuisine still evolves today with the introduction of Japanese and Korean cooking and the return of overseas foreign workers from far flung areas of the world.
All these combined influences from other countries resulted in the distinctive Filipino flavor palate of tamis (sweet), asim (sour) and alat (salty) delivered all at once in a single presentation.