All of a sudden, I feel homesick, as I remember a Filipino summer favorite ice treat of mine, halo-halo. In the midst of a sea of people watching a summer concert in the park, I feel alone.
"Orange, Strawberry, Pina Colada" are the suggested flavors. I picked the pina colada. While I mix the shaved ice, the familiar sound gave me a childish giggle. But the shaved ice is unable to give me the same delightful experience. I craved for the real thing... I craved for halo halo.
As I obsessively try to make my time with the snow cone more enjoyable, my mind races to list down the ingredients that I could gather from my pantry. The traditional halo halo back home consists of shaved ice with sweetened fruits, dried nuts and tapioca pearls. What I was able to assemble from my pantry included: bananas, rice krispies to replace the pinipig (dried rice), green gelatine (agar-agar) and sweet rice (this is one of the ingredients popular in my home province).
I got some shaved ice, leche flan (custard ) and drizzled the crushed ice with condensed milk...
Ahhh... I was ready to enjoy my home made halo-halo.
Some would like to arrange the layers into different colors, making it a visual treat. But most of us would not bother, as all the ingredients are mixed together anyways (halo-halo literally means mix-mix). The soft gelatin and the sweet rice plus the crispiness of rice krispies blended in my mouth like a beautiful orchestra... it was definitely delicious - just as my palette remembers my childhood favorite.
Well you can tell... the whole serving disappeared in no time...
With the heat rising to almost a 100 degrees, we needed another bowl of halo halo to enjoy...
Although I was not able to get more traditional ingredients, my version of halo-halo hit the spot. The traditional recipe will include ube (purple yam), canned jack fruit, sweet beans and nata de coco (sweetened coconut). Shaved ice is added to the top of the sweetened fruits, beans and dried rice. Evaporated milk is then poured on the ice and a slice of flan or a scoop of ice cream is added on the pile of shaved ice. This designates it as a "special" halo-halo, in contrast to the "regular" version, which we add sugar to the ice before we mix in fixed anticipation of savoring the different ingredients.
Despite being in the Midwest thousands of miles away from my hometown, a spoonful of this cold treat made me feel like I was at home... But then again, this is my new home, made more meaningful and special by my memories of the Philippines. Looking back at the concert, I did have fun listening to the jazz band and enjoying the late summer day. More thoughts flooded my head as the band played "Deacon Blues" by Steely Dan. But alas, these stories deserve another post. In the meantime, I rifle through the songs from my youth on Spotify and reminisce with a smile on my face.