writen by Lori Baltazar
Every afternoon, I hear the familiar call, which starts on a high note and ends low: “Tahoooooohhhhh! Tahoooooohhhhh!” This is a familiar call that comes from the person we’ve dubbed as the “taho man,” or simply, Manong.
Manong carries two aluminum containers, one that is long and narrow, the other one short and squat, The containers contain a traditional and treasured Filipino snack. The two tubs are balanced on a bamboo pole and carried by Manong, who is lean and strong from hours of walking carrying his precious wares, and sunburned from time spent under the sun.
The long and narrow container that Manong holds is for the taho (ta-HOH), unpressed soybean curd mixed with a coagulant. The resulting texture is that of quivery crème brulee. The short and squat container on the other hand, holds two compartments; one for the sago (sa-GOH), or tapioca balls; the other is for the brown syrup called arnibal, it’s similar to molasses.
First the taho is scooped out into the plastic cups that Manong carries with him, or else we give him one of our own cups. Once the taho has almost filled the cup, Manong then lifts the lid of the other container. Using a narrow aluminum spoon which looks like a long, slim ladle, he carefully spoons out some syrup and drizzles it on top of the taho. Once there is enough syrup, Manong then scoops out little piles of sago, using it to top the taho.
The first mouthful is like liquid coursing down my throat. It’s warm, from the syrup and the heat. It’s sweet, with the undertones of brown sugar. It tastes like the comfort of a thousand happy memories