This month's selection for my culinary book club was Davidson's selected essays titled A Kipper With My Tea. Two members of our group were friends of Davidson, and remembered his visits to Ann Arbor; on one occasion, he stayed at their home.
The discussion this evening was wide-ranging, not especially limited to the book. All of us had favorites among the essays and also some less-than-favorite choices. We all liked his historical essay on the history of British cookbooks, his discussion of the culinary works of Alexander Dumas, and some of the essays on fish.
I especially liked his essay titled "Hallo, Halo-Halo." Halo-halo is the Filipino version of shave ice, which entered American consciousness because President Obama is fond of the Hawaiian version, which includes the snow-like shaved ice, sweetened condensed milk, syrup, and ice cream. (I just put in that sentence because I want to write "President Obama" one more time.)
In Hawaii: a shave-ice machine shaves the ice block into a sort of
snow, which the operator forms into a snow-ball.
"A symbol of the Filipino joy in eating is the dessert-cum-drink called halo-halo. The name is Tagalog (the official language of the Philippines) for 'mix-mix.' ... Halo-halo was born when ice came to the Philippines, in the 1920s. Its badge is a mound of shaved ice at the top of a tall sundae glass. Below the ice sits a scoop of ice cream. Below that are the cooked fruits: cubes of sweet potato and of saba banana, slivers of jackfruit, red beans, spoonfuls of purple yam jam, cubes of gulaman (agar-agar gelatin) bathed in coconut milk, sugar-palm seeds and chickpeas. ... You can have as many different layers as you please, but you still have an ordinary halo-halo unless you add the three requirements for a 'special:' leche flan (egg-yolk custard, top Filipino dessert), makapuno (the rare kind of coconut which is full of soft meat because of a recessive gene), and a sprinkling of sugar and toasted pinipig (whole-rice flakes)." (p. 213-214)