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Say hello-hello to halo-halo

The Filipino dessert is absolutely delicious

Chona Liloc makes an absolutely insane, unapologetically messy, bean-encrusted delicious Halo-halo. Photo credit: Steph DeRosa

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Let the truth be known: I am secretly scared to death to fly across any ocean, into any foreign country, for any reason whatsoever.  Even if it's to eat the best goddamn meal I'll ever have, I will not travel.

Call me a scaredy cat, a wuss, or a coward - I don't care. I don't like airplanes and how they are all up the air without strings or legs or anything holding them up but fire and gas. I don't like the tube they put you in, the lady hacking up a lung three rows back or the stomach virus that one guy from New Jersey had last night but he still got on the plane today anyway. The four-inch-wide seats are no compliment to my fat ass, and even though I don't smoke, being up in all that anxiety makes me want to take a long, hard drag on a menthol.

Oh, and there's my paralyzing fear of kidnappings, vanishing flights in the Indian Ocean, the Italian judicial system and malaria. Those are all probable forces that haunt my inner traveler's soul. 

Don't worry, friends. Just because I have severe anxiety and don't have a passport doesn't mean I must forgo the luxury of indulging in traditional foreign cuisine. The solution to being scared of long voyages, yet still culturally diverse and full of worldly knowledge comes in a package dressed up as a friend.

You have all your token ethnic friends, right?  Your token African friend, Italian friend, Asian-nerd friend and that Latina friend you hang out with on occasion. She's the one you love the most around Christmas because her mama and tia have been making homemade tamales all week and you want in on some of that goodness.

See?  I don't need to travel to eat good, I have ethnic friends and those friends have families.  Let's take for instance my beautiful Filipino friend, Maia. If you don't have a Filipino friend you best get on that. Maia has a family that is crazy loving ... and it RULES.  I was recently lucky enough to be treated by Maia's mother, Chona Liloc, to an authentic helping of halo-halo.

Halo-halo in Filipino translates to "mix mix". It's something so texturally unique, you simply must ask, "What the F is in this, anyway?" 

Halo-halo is a Filipino dessert that begins with shaved ice and is topped with layers of fruit that can only be described as "round". 

Chona had an array of jarred legumes and fruits at her disposal which all appeared to be packaged in syrup. There were saba (cooking) bananas, mung beans, jackfruit, and two vastly different colors of sugar palm. They all had different names yet they were all preserved in such a manner, that upon consumption all felt equally "round" in texture without differing flavor. This was a good thing to me, because otherwise I'm not sure this dessert would've "mixed-mixed" so well in my tum-tum without the equalizing syrup effect.

These candied beans and fruits preserved in syrup were scattered upon the initial mound of shaved ice, then topped with purple yam ice cream, evaporated milk, and Pinipig, which is a flavorless toasted rice that has been tinted green.

According to Chona Liloc, halo-halo is made differently in each area of the Philippines, yet here in the South Puget Sound you can find the best halo-halo at restaurants Cebu in Lacey and Marisol in Lakewood.

Look, if you're searching for a token Texan friend, I'm your gal. I'll feed you fried animal parts you never knew were edible.

CEBU, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, 9408 Martin Way E., Olympia, 360.455.9128

MARISOL, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10505 Bridgeport Way SW, Lakewood, 253.581.7248

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