Halo Halo: Growing up “Mix Mix,” Filipino in the American South (Gravy Ep. 37)

Alexis Diao's Father's Family in the Philippines (he's to the right of her grandmother).

 When Alexis Diao’s father arrived in Tallahassee, Florida, he couldn’t even find coconut milk—let alone many other ingredients to make the Filipino food of his home. But there was an even bigger problem: he didn’t know how to cook. His feeling of remove from everything familiar was intensified; he was in a new land with unfamiliar foods, and not a clue how to cook them.

Alexis Diao's Lolo (grandfather) Gregorio Eleuterio Diao in the U.S.
Alexis Diao’s Lolo (grandfather) Gregorio Eleuterio Diao in the U.S.

In this episode of Gravy, Alexis ponders how her family and others made a culinary home for Filipinos in the Florida panhandle, and how to impart that hybrid Filipino-Southern identity to her own daughter.

Alexis Diao with her daughter, Sol.
Alexis Diao with her daughter, Sol.

You can find recipes for some of the Filipino dishes Alexis mentions in this piece, via a blog called Ang Sarap, which means “it’s delicious.” There’s one for the dessert Halo Halo, or “Mix Mix” here. There’s a recipe for Pancit Canton, that stir-fried noodle dish, here.

Pancit Canton; image courtesy of www.angsarap.net.
Pancit Canton; image courtesy of www.angsarap.net.

You can find a recipe for the soup, Sinigang, here.