On August 27th, the Philippine American Women’s Association of Louisiana (PAWAL) hosted a Halo-Halo Workshop at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, (SOFAB) at 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd in New Orleans. Forty attendees learned about making the toppings for halo-halo and assembling the desert.
The workshop started with a greeting from PAWAL president Jessica Bayuga who introduced the goals of the workshop. Acclaimed Filipino Louisiana chef Cristina Quackenbush provided a brief history of halo-halo, explaining that the icy desert was introduced by Japanese vendors prior to World War II and that Filipinos quickly added to the desert by topping it with local ingredients like fresh fruit, flavored gels, leche flan, and ube. Halo-halo, which means mixed, is a popular dessert in the Philippines.
Quackenbush explained how to make and cut the gels and how to source other ingredients. After the ingredients were prepared, attendees lined up to prepare their own halo-halo. They selected from sweetened azuki beans, flavored gels, fresh fruit (jackfruit, mango, coconut), sweetened jackfruit, toasted rice crispies, leche flan, tapioca, avocado ice cream, and milks (coconut, evaporated, condensed) to flavor their cup of crushed ice.
As attendees enjoyed the halo-halo they assembled, Randy Gonzales, co-vice president of the Philippine Louisiana Historical Society, gave a brief talk about the foodways of the early Filipino settlers of Louisiana. He described the Filipino foods eaten at St. Malo, the first Filipino settlement in the United States, and Manila Village, once the largest shrimp-drying facility in the region.
The workshop was sponsored by the Bayou Culture Collaborative, which aims to help organizations pass cultural traditions to future generations.