Online food guide Taste Atlas included four Filipino dishes in its 2023 “100 Worst Rated Foods in the World” list.
Before the evolving list was updated this week, Filipino spaghetti ranked 81st, while balut, which the food guide previously ranked as the worst egg dish in the world, ranked 9th on the list of world’s worst-rated dishes. Lesser-known Filipino food kinalas, a regional noodle soup dish, landed the 17th spot, while hotsilog, a fried rice meal topped with fried hotdogs and eggs, was listed at 36th.
Filipino spaghetti, which is characterized by its sweet sauce combined with ground meat and sliced hotdogs, was described in Taste Atlas’ listing as a dish slowly becoming a “national dish in the Philippines.”
Considered by many Filipinos as a comfort food, the dish is usually served during gatherings or special occasions.
Balut, a steamed, fertilized duck egg consumed throughout Southeast Asia, saw a massive jump from last year’s 283th place in the guide’s worst-rated food in the region. According to Taste Atlas, the dish is considered a “poor man’s meal in the Philippines.”
It has gained notoriety in the Western world after being presented in food shows as “exotic” and “bizarre.” The egg dish is also listed as the 9th most disgusting food in the world and is even included in Sweden’s Disgusting Food Museum.
Meanwhile, kinalas is a noodle dish from the Philippine province of Bicol that contains brains and other scraped meat from pork or beef head. The website describes its thick soup as “a shrimpy, garlicky brown gravy consisting of dried shrimps, vinegar, garlic, shallots, soy sauce, and fish sauce.”
Hotsilog, a variant of “silog” — fried rice paired with a fried egg and fried meats — dishes, is a traditional breakfast fried rice dish that features bright red, Filipino-style hotdogs.
Taste Atlas’ list caused a minor social media stir in the Philippines, with some Filipino commenters expressing their disapproval of the inclusion of some of the dishes.
“Hotsilog is comfort food, some people just don’t understand,” one user wrote.
“Downfall of TasteAtlas is coming,” another chimed in. “They should no longer put this kind of review in social media because of seemingly discrimination to cultures.”
“You don’t get to judge the taste of the world,” a commenter wrote in Filipino. “Balut, Kinalas, Hotsilog and Filipino Spaghetti all taste good for us. We don’t care what you think.”
Equally offended users from other cultures similarly criticized the list for including their traditional foods.
Taste Atlas has previously stated that they determine the rankings by counting the average ratings that its website visitors give for each dish.
“We are a site dedicated to local dishes and have a database of 15,00+ dishes and ingredients,” Taste Atlas wrote in a series of tweets in December 2022. “Throughout the year, people rate those foods (no cuisines) in our database…At the end of the year, we take the average of the best-rated [or worst-rated] dishes in each kitchen.”
At the end of the year, we take the average of the best-rated dishes in each kitchen (so that France is not brought down by frogs, for example). And that’s it: https://t.co/TVbd3jYZG4
— TasteAtlas (@TasteAtlas) December 24, 2022
“Some votes are recognized by our system as invalid (eg nationalist votes: people from one country give high marks to their dishes and low marks to their neighbors. We don’t count such votes),” it added.
In Taste Atlas’ most recent edit, balut has climbed up to 8th place, while Filipino spaghetti, kinalas and hotsilog have somehow dropped off the list.