Many would prefer a cup of expensive ice cream with swirls of Belgian chocolate. Frankly, I could not see why. For apart from the nice taste, which include the "fragrance" of the chocolate that I find sickening when taken in large doses, and the classy look one would immediately acquire as one starts to eat it, I still find it as a rather pretentious thing to eat.
Well, everyone has his own taste, and as for me, I would rather have the fresh, soft tofu, with the sweet, sticky carmelized sugar for syrup, garnished with chewy sago: locally known as Taho. Served in a disposable cup, with a disposable spoon or a fraction of a straw, steaming and giving off such a delicious scent, it is an eveyday thing for me and as far as I can tell, for the common Filipinos, as well.
I really love the way taho's ingredients counterbalance each other. The blackish brown of the arnibal (carmelized sugar) breaks the monotony of the white of the tofu and together blend an interesting mix of colors that are appealing to the eyes. Also, the sweetness of the syrup is made acceptable by the neutrality of the tofu. The sago, on the other hand, provides texture to the otherwise too smooth a way the other two feel to the mouth.
Apart from the way it affects my senses, taho also serves a reminder. A reminder of early mornings, waking up to manong's "Tahoooo! Tahoooo kayo riyan!", of rushing out of the house with my brother, tousled hair and morning breaths, and demanding the adults for some of the taho. Also, taho connects me to the masses. For, interestingly enough, taho is also now a diversion, an alternative, to the more popular morning habit of the Filipinos called "kape at pandesal", and having it any time of the day, everyday, is just a very Filipino thing to do.
Now, do not get me wrong. I do enjoy a cup of expensive ice cream with swirls of Belgian chocolate. It's just that eating something like that worries me. I mean, it leaves me penniless and I have to think of a way to compensate. With taho, however, I can have a local version of the costly stuff, and I can always have it...guilt-free, financially, that is.