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Like the culture in general, Filipino food is basically of Malay origin, with Spanish, Chinese, and American influences. Regardless of origin, lechon, lumpia, and pork adobo are now considered national dishes. Regional variations in the fresh ingredients available account for provincial specialties. Centuries of Spanish rule have resulted in about 80% of Filipino dishes being of Spanish derivation. Interestingly, there was relatively little Mexican influence, despite the ties to a Mexican-based administration and the galleon trade. The Spanish colonialists preferred Iberian dishes, such as arroz valenciana, to those of the Mexican Indians. Adobo preparation is the only exception as the tomato, corn, avocado, and potato in adobo were all introduced from Mexico.

The most obvious Chinese contribution is noodles, which form the basis of the popular pancit dishes. The Chinese also gave the Philippines lumpia and chop suey. Some standard dishes, such as the coconut-based ginataan, have retained their Malay origin. The Muslims never entered the Spanish sphere, so their cooking has remained heavily Malay. It's spicy, and marked by the use of coconut milk and chilis, the prevalence of cassava as well as rice and seafood, and the absence of pork.

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