Shrimp Paste, a Dreaded Food!


My wife is from the Philippines. Filipinos have different tastes in food than we Americans. Not necessarily better, and not necessarily worse. Just different.

For example, halo-halo, a sorta ice/ice-cream dessert, has beans in it. How many Americans put beans in their ice-cream? (It is actually pretty good; you should try it!) And my wife and her friends insist that the best part of a fish is the head. I have to differ with them on that one.

It goes the other way too; we eat some foods that Filipinos, (or at least my wife), find disgusting. Mint is a good example of something I love, but my wife considers inedible. She used to also get disgusted by just the smell of Mexican food, but, fortunately, she’s grown out of that one, and we can now eat happily at the local Mexican restaurants.

There are many, many Filipino foods that are delicious. Chicken adobo, embutido, (a sorta Philippine meat loaf), pancit, bihon, (which my wife insists is the proper term, and if you call it pancit-bihon you’re a confused speaker of Tagalog!), and chicken arroz caldo. My wife cooks all of these for me, making me a very happy, fat man.

But there is one Filipino food that I don’t think any American can stand, namely, shrimp paste. What is shrimp paste like? It’s a dark, very stinky sauce that to me tastes like rotten seafood. YUCK!! Yet most Filipinos think the stuff is delicious.

As a young adult my wife converted to Seventh Day Adventism. Her religion forbids the eating of shellfish, (pork too, by the way), so I am spared the pain of dealing with shrimp paste. But once, at a filipino buffet restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, while trying to decide what to get to eat, I choose some vegetables, because they appeared to be the least unappealing. Imagine my shock and disgust when, after the first bite, I discovered that they had been cooked in ……. shrimp paste!

The stuff is really, really bad folks. You’ve been warned!


Here are some other “goodies” to try, if you’re adventurous: