I just returned from a trip to the Philippines, which has gotta have one of the most oddball food cultures in this whole entire world. I like to think of it as Asian tastes with American sensibilities — they’ve got all the fishy, funky flava you’ll find in Japanese or Korean cooking, but then they go and do things like deep-fry a whole dish or put cheese and ice cream on top. In other words, it’s pretty amazing.
But the most far-out dish of all I had there is known as halo halo — the ubiquitous Filipino dessert. It consists of a fruit cocktail melange topped by shaved ice and a scoop of ice cream (in this case, ube — purple yam — ice cream), with a cup of evaporated milk poured over the whole thing for a gooey, melty mess. But the kicker lies back in that melange of fruit cocktail, which basically seems to contain whatever the chef had in the fridge or lying on the counter that day. This version included bananas, syrupy peaches, coconut, sweet potato, regular potato, something that may or may not have been tapioca balls, lima beans, black beans, an old boot…you get the point: just surprise after mushy, delicious surprise.
Oh, and there’s Cheerios sprinkled on top of the whole thing, because why not?