Meal #16: Halo Halo (Filipino) with Ruben

Thank you for tuning into episode #16 of Monday’s Marvelous Meals!

In this interview-based food series, you’ll learn about the world’s tastiest cuisines from other travelers and travel bloggers.

In today’s episode, I am thrilled to host a fellow travel blogger named Ruben share his favorite Filipino dish!  This is a special one for me, beacuse I have eaten this dish about 20 times in the Philippines — and I am in the Philippines right now as I write this!

If you want to be the next person featured in this series, then please contact me with your favorite meal and I will send you the guidelines.  My aim is to cover all cuisines of the globe, so please try to contribute a meal that hasn’t already been covered.

Okay, now I’ll let Ruben take over!

Meet Ruben

Ruben Arribas is a Spanish traveler who has been to 74+ countries around the world. If you value real cheap travel guides and offbeat destinations, he is your go-to guy.

Read his tips and stories in Gamin Traveler and join the community on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Question 1: Please share the name of this meal, and carefully describe what the magical ingredients are.

Halo-halo is my favorite and one of the most popular desserts in the Philippines. The Filipinos are very fond of their sweet food, and Halo-halo is usually popular during the hot months, however you can easily find it in a lot of places in the country whole year round.

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Depending on where you are eating it, it can be sophisticated or very simple. Halo-halo’s sweet secret is the right mix of crushed ice, sugar, milk and various fruits and sweet beans. It is made up of coconut, sweet purple yam (the best is their authentic Ube Halaya, another local dessert), colorful jellies, leche flan (another dessert), corn, sweet banana or saba, (or sweet potato), and of course, sugar and sweet condensed milk. Since it can be hot in the country even during the wet season, you can easily enjoy your halo-halo any time of the day, any time of the year.

Question 2: Where did you eat this meal? Did you discover it while you were traveling, or did you previously know about it?

Halo-halo can be found anywhere in the country. I haven’t heard of it before visiting the Philippines, but since my first visit in the country was during the summer season, I can’t help but discover it since it can be found even in local food stores and even sold by small street vendors. You may see other desserts in other parts of Asia that may resemble this one, but halo-halo’s taste is deliciously unique and refreshing.

You should easily find it anywhere. Ask a local, and since they can understand English well, they can easily point you to the nearest place where you can buy one, and will also tell you where the best tasting halo-halo of the area is.

Question 3: How much money did it cost, and where do you recommend to find it?

The best part of the halo-halo is its price. Prices can start from 35 cents (yup, it’s that cheap) when buying in very local places. Most of them are priced around $1 dollar, although the more sophisticated ones, or the ones served in restaurants can cost higher (although nothing significantly higher than than $2-$3). I stayed longer in the food capital of the Philippines – Pampanga, which for me is a recommended place to taste halo-halo. The best place to taste halo-halo is in the most popular dessert and local food chain in Pampanga, Susie’s Cuisine. Their halo-halo is served in its iconic and unique cup (this tall cup is uniquely made in the Philippines for halo-halo) and open from morning to evening.

Question 4: What is your overall favorite cuisine in the world? What makes it so damn tasty?

My favorite cuisine would be Thai food!

I can’t believe I will say this, but when I first visited Thailand (I have been to Thailand a lot of times), it immediately became my favorite, and food tasted even better in my home country, Spain. And you know how good Spanish food is 😉 …

Starting with the fresh fruits like mangoes, coconut, rambutan and fresh fruit juices. They have so much variety and fruits and juices, and you can see that eating fruits is infused in the local culture, because there are so many local street vendors who sell fruits all around Bangkok. I also love soups in Thailand (they have various kinds of soups), the popular Pad Thai, and their spicy dishes cooked with fried rice.

Sweets and desserts are also really good in Thailand. The most popular and my favorite is mango with sticky rice and coconut sauce.

The best thing is that Thai food can be quite cheap, and good cooking can be found everywhere, from small local street vendors to the big restaurants.

Question 5: Eating is my #1 favorite part about traveling. Why do you think it’s so important to eat local foods when you travel abroad?

Like you, trying local food is my favorite thing to do when traveling to a new country. Why? Because food is a big part of everyone’s culture, and traveling to a new country, learning about the culture should be a big part of travel – to learn what’s unique, different and how people live in a certain area of the world. Trying local food with the local people will definitely give you the most authentic experience – you’ll be able to taste and eat the food like how the locals eat it, while you are surrounded by all things local, unlike when you are eating in a fancy restaurant when everything will be served in fancy plates and platters, and sometimes the food’s taste will be changed/adjusted. This is why I really love to meet local people and spend time and eat with them.

I have tried to eat spicy food and curries with my bare hands, or even eat with plastic gloves, like in one local place in Singapore, while eating a local chicken dish. When someone visits me in Spain, I make sure that there is a lot of time to eat and enjoy local food (and beers!), and if possible, definitely home cooked dishes. I also try to cook a Spanish dish, like the Spanish omelette or Paella when visiting locals in another country, while Couchsurfing, or staying with locals so they can taste a little bit of the Spanish cuisine. To me, it is a great way for me to share with the new friends I meet the experience of the Spanish culture.


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