Siena eating Halo-Halo



We are a”mixed” people, and a “mixed” cuisine — a culinary conglomerate!

This was a landmark activity when it comes to Filipino food initiations. Halo-Halo is often times considered our national dessert. Halo comes from the word “halo”, which in Tagalog means mixed.

Our version in the picture is a homemade one. However, if you go to a Filipino restaurant, the dish is actually quite vibrant. It is akin to the Filipino version of the sno-cone.

Let’s face it — many of the sweetest and most indulgent desserts you will ever have feature condensed milk. This is one of those cases. The vessel is usually a deep, glass bowl or goblet. We begin with some finely shaved ice and a sampling of Filipino confections:

The Filipino Smorgasbord of “Halo-Halo”

  • red beans
  • garbanzos
  • coconut (macapuno)
  • jackfruit
  • tapioca
  • rice krispies
  • jello.
  • Then, we top it off with the very best: a scoop of purple yam or mango ice cream, a sliver of flan, and a small sprinkling of sugar.
  • Rich, condensed milk is poured over like a beautiful summative fountain.

When one gets a halo-halo, it is easy to sigh in how brilliant, how heterogeneous this concoction is. But — of course, its destiny is to be “mixed” right away! When one takes it all together, it has the consistency of an uneven but very dimensional milkshake.

I think it’s funny that we have this frozen yogurt craze right now. Halo-halo is very similar in that it is a very self-determined, mixed dessert. The variety of textures is really stunning because every bite is so different. You can hunt for what you like best or you can close your eyes and take whatever comes your way. Either way, all of the colors and textures make this such an aesthetic dish. I feel like eating it is an experience itself.

Other cultures have desserts that parallel this dish. Some are listed below.


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