Introducing the “Hello Hello”!
As a culmination of our amazing adventures blending in to Coron, Palawan, we created a delicious smoothie with ingredients representing the unique geography, culture, and cuisine of the area. We call it the “Hello Hello”.
The name Hello Hello is a play on the Philippines’ favorite desert, Halo Halo. We picked this name to honor of the countless frantic waves and friendly smiles accompanied with cries of “Hello!” we got while walking, boating, and motorcycling around Coron Town and the rest of Busuanga, the northernmost island of Palawan in the Philippines.
The ingredients we chose for the Hello Hello capture the spirit, cuisine, and culture of the Philippines we experienced during our fantastic time in the country.
No Filipino dish is complete without rice. Try ordering a plate from a street-side vendor without an accompaniment of rice and you’re certain to get a look of bewilderment.
We got local rice grains reportedly milled just two days earlier, soaked them in water, blended it and strained it to make rice milk, which even our self-proclaimed foodie friend from Makati had never heard of.
If rice is the king of Filipino’s diets, sugar is the queen. No food in the Philippines can escape it. Even their spaghetti is sweetened.
And no source of sweetness is more revered by Filipinos than the purple yam they call ube. We encountered ube-flavoured everything, including drinks, sticky rice, cookies, and, of course, as the start ingredient of halo halo, from which the Hello Hello’s name is inspired.
Now, whether ube actually exists or is a mythical tuber remains to be proven to us. Despite our attempts, we did not manage to locate a single fresh ube. This is a symptom of the Filipino diet’s extreme reliance on processed ingredients. You name it, and it’s processed and available in a single-serve package.
So to honor Filipino’s love for uber sweet ube and pay homage to the preponderance of packaging, ube powder was a natural choice. We hoped the powder would add some purple pizazz to our Hello Hello, but were. Apparently adding purple coloring to the powder was one step too far. Go figure.
The Philippines, where basketball reigns supreme as the national sport despite its famously short-statured populace, is a country of contradictions. So to contrast the pure processed nature of the previous ingredient, we added raw honey. One hundred percent natural, this honey is thinner than what we are accustomed to. And in the endless roadside shops lining every Filipino road it can be found right alongside it’s one hundred percent processed alternatives.
The honey was generously donated to us by the storeowner who also loaned us the Magic Bullet knock-off we used for blending. When we asked her about borrowing her blender, she agreed without hesitation, but told us we would have to take it to our guesthouse because her store was under an indefinite blackout that is the norm throughout the country. Her immediate willingness to lend strangers her nearly new blender without exact indication on what for or for how long is just a typical laissez-faire community generosity we experienced on a daily basis.
Just as the Inuit of Northern Canada famously have no single word for snow, but instead multiple words for different varieties of the precipitation they know so intimately, the Filipinos have two words for coconut: buko and niyog. Buko is young coconut, light green, smooth and filled with water. Niyog is the older, brown, hairy coconut whose flesh is used for coconut milks. We used the latter, getting the assistance from a local to show us how to manually grate off the super tough white inner flesh.
We didn’t plan to use this ingredient. We had other fruit in mind, but on the day of smoothie making it was nowhere to be found. While searching in vain from store to store, we happened across some kids wielding a long narrow bamboo pole and poking at tree branches high above. A super sweet, grape sized fruit, it was a perfect stand-in. And when the kids struggled to knock down an ample supply to add to our smoothie, a veteran came down and showed them-and us-how it’s supposed to be done, deftly plucking the sweetest fruit from the tree.
In the Philippines, things don’t always go as planned, but you go with the flow and make the best of what you have.
Ube Flavored Straw and Local Flower Garnish
Just because. Not everything needs a reason. Many things in the Philippines seemed to follow the same philosophy.
Blending It All Together
With islands and a ubiquitous bangka boat in the background, we couldn’t have hoped for a better spot to blend together the ingredients that represented our time in the Philippines. With our new friends at Vicky’s guesthouse, we savored a few sips of our creation. Delicious.
Now where to blend in next?