Comfort Food: Love is a Dish Best Served Hot

By Guest on 19 June, 2008

Ginataang Halo-halo
Franco’s Note
: Small change this month. The Three will be writing about comfort food we love–where we go or what we make when we need the soothing fix that our favorite foods can provide. Enjoy.

A good lot of my fonder memories of childhood have something to do with the food and beverages I used to consume when I was younger: from the hot chocolate made from tablea we used to make at home, to the glass of taho my brother and I had almost every morning, and the putobumbong, sinampalukan, kalderetang may gata and tinumis that was ever-present in our visits to my grandparents’ home.

When I was given the topic for my guest entry, I actually found myself a bit distressed. My ideas of comfort food are actually pretty boring: cereals, fruits and, well, a good home-cooked meal. I sat on it for days, knowing that there was something I find comforting that was a lot more interesting than the aforementioned. And then it came to me: ginataang halo-halo.

A wonderful medley of saba (cooking bananas), gabi (taro), kamote (sweet potato), langka (jackfruit), sago (tapioca pearls), ube (purple yam) and bilu-bilo (rice flour balls) in gata (coconut milk), this dish isn’t just about how delicious everything is together, but also the different textures that you encounter in a spoonful of it, in a bowlful of it. I remember that the moment I had my first bite, one with an especially large bilu-bilo, I fell in love.

You can probably tell by now that my favourite part of this particular Filipino snack are the rice balls. They’re soft, chewy and faintly sweet. They’re usually just white in colour, but you may have them in yellows (langka or mango), greens (pandan) and purples (ube). Whether they were multihued or devoid of added flavours, they were all perfect to me. I’d go to the big pot full of ginataang halo-halo and purposely put more of the bilu-bilo (and sago!) and less of everything else. And that, right there, is Love in a Bowl, in Joeyland.

More than fruits and more than cereals, ginataang halo-halo gives me a very distinct sense of comfort. Sitting myself down with a hot bowlful of it, I’d inhale it’s scent and already feel better. And the moment that the first spoonful of slippery sago, chewy bilo-bilo, and earthy root crops slides down my throat, my mind tells me that everything’s going to be okay, that I’m home and I’m safe. And I don’t think a dish can get any more comforting than that.

Many thanks to Joey of Manila Foodistas

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  • JUNE 20, 2008 9:58 AM

    Mike/Depeds said...

    wooow. ginataang halu-halo?

    coool :)

  • JUNE 20, 2008 10:13 AM

    onethousandone said...

    Haha, I'm not surprised that this is the comfort food you chose. I remember nung 4th year you were always so excited pag may ganito sa caf. Haha. Sa buong Pisay ikaw lang yata ang natutuwa dun eh, LOL. :D

  • JUNE 20, 2008 10:15 AM

    Marco said...

    my ahma used to make this for us when we were younger :) the stuff in it was slightly different (no ube and she added a few other things. but i am not sure what they all are). it is comforting though! it's been a long time since i last had it.

    your writing and photography are always awesome. great post!


  • JUNE 20, 2008 10:36 AM

    Harrell said...


  • JUNE 20, 2008 10:54 AM

    pat said...

    first time i read a blog review on one of Filipino's prime summer comfort food: halo-halo! :D haha. very nostalgic and nice piece. :3

  • JUNE 20, 2008 12:04 PM

    BiggNikk said...

    i'm hungry now. Blergh. Thanks a lot joey. :p

  • JUNE 20, 2008 2:10 PM

    WoH said...

    Awesome post! Makes me want to try :)

    (happy koffing ftw xD)

  • JUNE 20, 2008 3:10 PM

    Miwa said...

    i love it when theres extra bilo bilo and sago. its the shet and the smex P: mmm~ with the sweet potatoes going on... ugh... sarap.

  • JUNE 20, 2008 3:58 PM

    Anonymous said...

    yummy!!! i love ginataang bilu-bilo. the way you describe it here makes me crave for it bad. the photo doesn't help either, haha!

  • JUNE 21, 2008 2:31 AM

    alexa hui said...

    this is probably one of the things i miss the most about living in the philippines. great article :) i love how your bilo-bilo comes in different colors.

  • JUNE 21, 2008 5:40 AM

    joey said...

    very! :) haha

    hahahh! i doubt it! i mean, if they prepare it every now and then, it must mean there are others who like it too :P

    yeahh :) i've had different variations of ginataang halo-halo as well.
    and thankyou! ?

    i know how you feel. although, i've been eating this for the past few days, haha.

    i tried searching for "ginataang halo-halo" on google and got a lot of blogs talking about it. guess you and i have to pay more attention to other blogs haha :P

    you're welcome :9

    you should! :) it's really good.

    i knoww! just about one of the best things ever :)

    alexa hui
    i saw a few recipes of this online a while ago, when i searched for it on google :) a number of them written by filipinos abroad, so the ingredients are those that are available to them -- why don't you try checking those out? :9

    and i like the multihued rice balls too haha :) they make eating it that much more interesting, for me.

  • JUNE 21, 2008 1:34 PM

    u8mypinkcookies said...

    that's soooo yummy! love it when my mom makes guinataang halo-halo! i eat it hot or straight from the fridge :D

  • JUNE 22, 2008 12:11 PM

    HannaH said...

    Joey's my favorite Manila Foodista! :D It's really nice you guys got her to write for you :) I love ginataang bilo-bilo too, so this makes me doubley happy haha!

    I can't wait to read more about comfort food. Great idea!

  • JUNE 22, 2008 12:55 PM

    aimee said...

    It kinda sounds like binignit(heard of it?), with sago, and chewy round things, jackfruit, the fat bananas and gabi...something my mom rarely makes for merienda. Maybe they're the same? Personally, I don't like binignit (except on cold days) hehe or any of hot dessert (usually) but the way you describe it makes me want to be comforted by one too! I wanna try one! I wonder if it's the same as binignit though...

  • JUNE 22, 2008 2:38 PM

    joey said...

    i love it hot :)

    i'm flattered you say so :)

    i've never heard of binignit o: they sound similar tho. maybe it's a variation of it?? or maybe it's another name for ginataan :)

  • JUNE 26, 2008 3:04 AM

    Lori said...

    Oh, oh, oh! I LOVE ginataan! But it must be hot with plenty of kamote (sweet potatoes) and little or no of those white rice balls. Most people I know prefer just the opposite. Sweet, warm, ah! The perfect comfort food.

  • JUNE 26, 2008 2:22 PM

    joey said...

    yes, definitely has to be served v. hot :) and it's the perfect thing to have on a cold, rainy day (which we seem to be having quite a bit of lately)

    i've been having this as a snack a lot lately. i guess i've been needing a lot of comforting, haha! uni's already wearing us all down, and it's only been 11 days.