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How Did Building Churches with Egg Whites Influence Filipino Desserts?

The Spaniards colonized the Philippines for over three centuries. When settlements were made, stone buildings were erected. Aside from the evident influence in architectural design, what construction technology was applied?

The massive church buildings made during the Spanish Colonial Period used egg whites to reinforce the strength of the building. Recipes for Filipino desserts use a lot of egg yolks due to the surplus they got from construction.

When Did the Spanish Colonize the Philippines?

The Spanish Colonial period lasted from 1565 to 1898. It all started after Ferdinand Magellan landed in the Philippines during his expedition to circumnavigate the globe. Unfortunately, the Portuguese explorer was killed by Lapu-Lapu during the Battle of Mactan.

Ruy Lopez de Villalobos arrived by 1543, and since King Philip II was the sitting monarch at the time, the group of islands was named after him; Las Islas Filipinas. (Source: Essays in Philippine History)

It took a while to gain the trust of the natives, but the Spanish were able to take over the states one village at a time. Each town was modernized and turned into municipalities with a central square and churches. While the Spanish were busy creating settlements, they also started converting natives to the Catholic faith.

It is said that aside from the Philippine Revolution, Spain was already thinking of abandoning the islands since it was draining their economy. They even thought of trading it with another territory. (Source: the Philippines Under Spanish Colonial Rule)

Churches Made with Egg Whites

The Holy Rosary Church in Angeles City, Pampanga, is one of the many churches made with egg whites. The building dates back to 1877 and is still standing today despite numerous typhoons and calamities.

Local churches were built with egg whites. That’s how they’ve survived typhoons and volcanic eruptions. Food is in the foundations here

April Evangelista

Whatever happened to all the egg yolks? Of course, there was a surplus of egg yolks during the construction time, and it would have been a complete waste to discard them. Instead, Filipinos got creative and used them to develop unique desserts. (Source: Atlas Obscura)

How Did the Desserts Evolve?

In the pre-Hispanic period, Filipinos preferred sweet fresh fruits for dessert. They would prepare fresh bananas, coconuts, mangoes, and other tropical fruits. By the time the Spaniards came and created settlements did desserts start to take a turn. People got creative and developed recipes. With the surplus of egg yolks, Filipinos made unique cookies, cakes, and flans.

The extensive use of egg white and eggshells brought about the ingenuity of the Filipino women who saw all these egg yolks being thrown in the river. Recipes were created to make use of the egg yolks, like pan de San Nicolas, yema, tocino del cielo, leche flanpastries, and tortas.

Pia Lim-Castillio

By the 19th century, when concrete was invented. Egg-white-based construction technology became a thing of the past. But the eggy desserts stayed and are still a staple until this day. (Source: Atlas Obscura)

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