Dirty Ice Cream or Halo-halo?

Would you care for some…
“Dirty ice cream”?
Or what about “halo-halo”?

For those who might unfamiliar with the quaint Philippines, I have a short story to tell.

Okay. Let’s talk about “dirty ice cream”   and its variations first so we won’t get lost.

Here’s a popular answer to ice cream in the Philippines.
Photo by pinintetest.com

Even before the time of Christ, snow mixed with honey ang sweet fruits was already a delicacy in China as this was a royal treat for emperors.


Ice cream is a delicacy that ostensibly originated from China.
Photo by history.cultural-china.com

Also listed below is a link about Abraham liking goat’s milk mixed with snow but please look at that after you finish reading this piece, so it won’t be anticlimactic, okay?

When Marco Polo brought to Italy the Chinese way of life, including the new idea of eating ice cream, he was ridiculed and ostracised. Why?

The snooty Europeans simply thought they were superior to any culture other than their own and they considered anything from the outside world as inferior, wanting and pathetic. The Spanish rulers who were in the Philippines then, though detached half a globe away, had the same mindset. The idea of this dessert was deemed dirty and unfit for human consumption. Hence, every homemade concoction of this sort has been metaphorically referred to as “DIRTY ICE CREAM”.


“Dirty ice cream” is savoured both by the rich and poor.
Photo by pininterest.com

In 1533 the Italian duchess Catherine de’ Medici of Florence surprised everyone when, in her wedding banquet, she served generous amounts of Italian “gelato” (Florence version derived from the ice cream recipe of Marco Polo from China), and the French aristocrats loved it. They thereafter called it “sorbet”, and henceforth, eating ice cream became not only politically correct, but fashionable as well.


Catherine de’ Medici of Florence married French King Henry II
Photo by kleio.com

Most countries in the Far East have had ice cream for centuries.

Most provinces in the Philippines facing the China Sea may never have had any snow but their vibrant trade with China made it possible to put ice cream in their menu as the Chinese knew how to make ice by using saltpeter.

In the town of Alitagtag, Batangas first started the large scale production of ice cream that attracted hundreds of ambulant vendors from all the neighboring provinces. This trade went on for a long time, making this town the ice cream capital of the Philippines.


“Dirty ice cream” from ambulant vendors is a common sight in the Philippines.
Photo by Christelle Duncombe

Not to be outdone, residents of Bacoor, Cavite made their own concoction called “halo-halo”, with all the sweet ingredients served uncrushed and even visibly whole, straight from the cooking pot to show its purity and that it cannot be dirty. This move was well accepted by the Spanish gentry and the friars, as well as the locals who kowtowed to the foreign colonizers.

In this modern day and age of complex foods processing where computer-controlled machines do most of the work, “halo-halo” is still prepared in the very same way it was done eons ago, though this dessert has now morphed into a mixture of dozens of ingredients in just one serving.

In one of the celebrated shops that have branches in Filipino communities other parts of the world, you can watch how they put the 29 ingredients into your own serving dish. You then have the option to mix all these sweets with the crushed ice while eating, hence the name “halo-halo” or loosely translated means “mix-mix”.


The more successful recipes are those that have the unique homegrown ingredients.
Photo by by nytimes.com

Unknown to many Filipinos who are ignorantly crazy about western ice cream, this “halo-halo”  is the gem that the discerning gourmands and foreign tourists go for, bringing traffic jams in the narrow side streets of Bacoor where the old Spanish houses have been converted into dessert palaces. Greatly exacerbated by parking problems of scores of huge buses from Manila, these tourists brave the traffic as they prefer to savor the “halo-halo” of Bacoor that can never be mistaken as “dirty”.


There variations on the ingredients for “halo-halo” are limitless.
Photo by pixgood.com

The very unusual recipes come from Japan where they have had thousands of recipes for centuries on their own “mochi”  ice cream that may even include seafoods, bitter herbs, and seaweeds.


Even if Japan has some exotic versions, most ingredients are typically Asian.
Photo by bokutouptokyo.wordpress.com

Like in the Philippines, the Koreans have also been eating their own ice cream with the fruit ingredients served whole. They call this “patbingsu”.


The Korean “patbingsu” is unique with its rare fruit ingredients.
Photo by yelp.com

This link below is truly interesting, so look at this link later:


Here are some excerpts:

“A greek poet who resided in Athens around 500 BC relates how the Greeks liked to prepare refreshing drinks made with lemon, honey, pomegranate juice, and of course, snow or ice.”

“Even Alexander the Great, during his conquests in India, demanded a continuous supply of snow to be consumed with honey, and that designated holes be dug in the ground for the purpose of preserving the snow.”

Now, there was a mention of some biblical passage about ice cream:

“In a passage in the Old Testament, Abraham turns to his son Isaac, urging him to cool off by drinking juice made of goat’s milk mixed with snow.”

Is this true? Is it biblical that Abraham loved ice cream?

Read this answer:
Prof Claude Mariottini is baffled.

Well, this is from the world wide web, so please bear with so-called “authorities” in history.

More than a century ago, a celebrated Filipino cook feted the King of Spain and his court to a grand feast and they were all delightedly impressed. The Spanish Governor-General assigned in the Philippines learned about this and feeling slighted for not having informed the king early enough, he burned to the ground the whole village of Sulipan in Apalit, Pampanga where the cook and his relatives came from to save face. This unfortunate event is a clear indication that history is shaped by strange and antiquated norms that were prevailing in times past.

Recently, King Carlos invited chef Fernando “Gene” Gonzales to prepare another feast for him and for the Spanish elite and asked for forgiveness on the brutal excesses done by the Governor-General in Sulipan and the Spanish Royal Court also awarded honors to Chef Gonzales.


The book Cocina Sulipena was authored by Chef Fernando Gene Gonzales  is a culinary treasure with a foreword by Julie Yap Daza.
Photo by amazon.com

The book Cocina Sulipena was a result of this gustatory research done by Chef Fernando Gene Gonzales who went back to his forebears’ recipes more than a century ago.

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