We honestly do not know what to make of Bon Appetit’s move. The revered food magazine ran a recipe story, “Ode to Halo Halo,” in its pages in July and published it on its website this week.
“It doesn’t get any cooler than halo-halo,” they started the feature. But soon it became clear that the gleaming words of praise for our unofficial national dessert were just sugar-coating.
It was disconcerting that in place of the usual delicious suspects — ube, sago, nata de coco, durian, and beans — Bon Appetit put in gummi bears, blueberries, and lime juice. They also put in coconut milk, unaware it seems of our favorite guinumis.
Sigh. To be honest, it sounds like desecration. Are we being too sensitive?
Thankfully, writer Reach Guinto took our angry words out of our mouths and wrote on another excellent food website Foodbeast:
“Understand this: ethnic cuisine is not some careless hodgepodge of ingredients that are without purpose. There’s reason to how they’re married into one definite dish, from the toothsome nata de coco, to the lithe jackfruit, to the emblematic inclusion of ube ice cream,” he wrote.
Like a good Filipino, he also issued a clarification on what Halo-Halo should be:
“The Philippines is a warm place, tropical and extremely humid. Halo-halo’s iconic purpose is to don a cape of refreshing and be the hero to many individuals in need of its ice relief. Now, tell me Bon Appetit, how throwing popcorn, gummi bears, and kosher salt into halo-halo would provide any form of refreshment.”
This reimagination of our Halo-halo follows Bon Appetit’s not-to-cool feature on Vietnam’s treasure pho. Like that one, the magazine also managed to piss off the Vietnamese community. We absolutely don’t know what Bon Appetit’s objective is, but it sure made us want to console ourselves with a large order of Halo-Halo.