Whether we have one, small difference or are polar opposites, we can agree on one thing: there is halo-halo in heaven.
Tagalog word of the day: Sarap.
There are only a few desserts I really enjoy and crave: French macarons and halo-halo. Of course, living in Dallas means you don’t get halo-halo often—actually, not at all—and now that I think about it, even French macarons aren’t super easy to come by. That’s probably one of the downsides of living in the Dallas suburbs—a certain lack of culture that is found in places like New York City or Los Angeles.
While I was in Los Angeles last year, one of the things I noticed was the incredible amount of culture and diversity throughout the city. I’ve always been fascinated by the beautiful mix of culture in Los Angeles, especially in places like J-Town/Little Tokyo. While I was in Los Angeles for a weekend with my dad a few weeks ago, I once again had a chance to catch a brief glance at the awkward melting pot of cultures that is LA. (I won’t even go into the bizarre pajama-wearing, sweatpants-loving culture I observed… that’s something for another day.)
Surprisingly, last year, I had no Filipino food—I didn’t even visit a place filled with Filipinos…aside from my aunt’s house—in Los Angeles, despite getting my dual citizenship at the Philippine Consulate! This time around, recommended by mom, my dad and I somehow fit time to make a trip to Carson to eat at… Jollibee.
Now, I think we should take a bit of time to admire halo-halo in all its glory. For those of you who don’t know, halo-halo (“mix-mix”) is a Filipino dessert that’s meant to be eaten, well… mixed!
On top is ube (purple yam) and langka (jackfruit) ice cream, accompanied with a chunk of flan. Inside are mung, garbanzo, and white beans, shaved ice, coconut, evaporated milk, colored gelatin, more jackfruit, and sweet banana. I’m sure any non-Filipino just winced at the thought of those ingredients mixed together. But I assure you, it tastes delicious.
I’m no expert in halo-halo—I’ve maybe tried it once or twice in Manila—but I enjoyed the Jollibee version, and that’s all that really matters, isn’t it? Hal0-halo will make your sweet taste buds explode with excitement, all while giving you a brain freeze if you try to indulge too quickly.
Aside from sitting with the only white person—my dad—in the restaurant (maybe the only other non-Tagalog speaker), I also looked way too excited for just fast food. That’s alright, though, since I made my secret escape to Red Ribbon next door!
The most unfortunate parts of it all were that (1) there wasn’t enough time to eat a cake, (2) I couldn’t bring a whole cake home, (3) we couldn’t fit any more than the two bags filled with mamon and ensaymada in our hands, and (4) I didn’t have time to eat all the ube & butter mamon I could while in-store.
I guess the most shocking part of going to Red Ribbon was realizing there were more flavors of mamon than just the butter flavor I’m so used to. Not even my mom—who I FaceTime called inside the store—knew there are also ube and mocha flavors (both sarap)!
It pains me to not be able to eat more at Jollibee, Red Ribbon, and the Chowking next door (the largest Chinese fast-food chain in the Philippines), or get to explore the rest of Carson—a city with a large amount of Filipino immigrants. But, I guess there always has to be more for next time!