Cyprus Mail
Food and Drink Life & Style

Whats Eaten Where: Manila

Right at the other end of the isolation scale than how we have been existing for the last few weeks we’ve got the conurbation of Manila: a place so thronged with human life, it holds over 22 million residents. The capital of the Philippines, Manila has a population density of well over 100,000 people per square mile.

Understandably, this tropical city is a hive of sweaty activity. This is the city which housed the nation’s first ice cream parlour, first movie theatre, and first elevator. And it’s also the place which gave birth to the infamous halo-halo – the nation’s most beloved drink.

The earliest versions of the halo-halo were composed only of cooked red beans or mung beans in crushed ice with sugar and milk. But, over the years, more native ingredients have been added, resulting in the development of the modern halo-halo, which – unsurprisingly – takes its name from the Tagalog word for ‘mixed’.

And mixed it is: although ingredients vary widely, the more the merrier with this beverage. Anything from sugar palm fruit, to coconut, saba plantains cooked in syrup, jackfruit, agar jellies, tapioca pearls, nata de coco, sweet potato, sweetened beans, pounded toasted rice, and cheese (yes, cheese!) go into the concoction. Shaved ice is then added to the whole, and evaporated milk poured on the lot – delivering a flurry of flavours quite unlike anything else.

Manila is also famous for its buko pie; popular at roadside stands, this custard pie is also made with sweetened milk. Then there’s kinilaw (a fresh fish, onion, and tomato concoction, often served with lashings of sweet coconut cream), and adobo, variously a dish, a sauce, or a seasoning, but always containing something marinated, usually chicken or pork.

Whatever your gastronomic proclivities, a visit to the world’s most densely populated city is certain to be a full of flavour. Just make sure you wash it all down with a halo-halo.

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