12 April 2009

Halo-Halo With Macaroni

High-elevation halo-halo. To keep you cool in the cold. More photos and a video below.

It's halo-halo season now. I dunno about you, but I've definitely stopped for this icy snack on the road more than once since the onset of the blistering heat. For those who aren't familiar, here's a short description of the snack in a Gourmet article on Asian iced desserts:

The gaudiest is surely halo-halo, which has all the exuberant gaiety one associates with Philippine culture at its happiest. Halo-halo means "mix-mix" in Tagalog and is often used as a metaphor for the Philippines' own distinctive mixture of East and West. You can see these cross-influences in the dessert itself, a mélange of ingredients served in a tall, clear glass and eaten with a long spoon. When you get it at a stall in Manila, the bottom of your glass is first covered with a crazy blend of ingredients that can include macapuno (sweetened coconut meat), jackfruit, sliced cantaloupe, mango cubes, bits of plantain, sweetened garbanzos, mung beans, and gelatin made from agar-agar. These are buried beneath a big scoop of ice, then topped with evaporated milk, pieces of leche flan sliced like tamago sushi, and maybe a big scoop of ice cream, ideally yam. Bright, sweet, and bursting with attractions, halo-halo is the Las Vegas of iced desserts.
Some, like Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, claim that halo-halo developed from Japanese immigrants' mitsumame or mongo con hielo (mung bean with ice), which was a snack originally made with snow in their home country before commercial ice shaving came about. Sta. Maria posits that Filipinos began adding fruit and flan to the imported concoction.

I'm more inclined to think that it is a post-ice (this would mean after 1904 for our country) modification of our guinataan, a general snack classification of a sweet soup or porridge made with gata (coconut milk) and whatever bean, root crop, or fruit you want to add.

One should observe the different forms of halo-halo relative guinumis, where some versions use shaved ice (it is the glass on the right) and the others, just coconut milk.

Anyway, the whole point is that such things are constantly evolving with new additions to the market, and there must be so many tangents on their evolution that your guess is as good as mine. But I'm betting ice changed a pre-existing snack drastically and created halo-halo as we know it. Then canned evaporated milk made it easy to assemble and sell on the streets, and then commercial ice cream saw the entry of "special" (a la mode) halo-halo. Now, in Sagada, they've started to add macaroni pasta to theirs (see topmost photo of this post).

Options: corn, camote or sweet potato, gelatin made from seaweed, coconut strips, melon strips.

It might sound hard to wrap your head around this, but among all the crunch and firmness of the beans and fruit, the doughy, chewy nature of a noodle is welcome.

The glass of halo-halo sitting on another color of gelatin, beside sago balls.

Slices of jackfruit and the infamous macaroni.

Here's a video of how they prepare the halo-halo. Note the man in the back eating it-- jabbing his spoon in first to mix the elements together. Also note how she rations the milk with a small shot glass.

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