If you’re about to click that mouse and leave this page because you’re wondering what on earth Tahoooooohh means, then you don’t know anything about taho sold the old-fashioned way. In the Philippines, at least. Sure, you may have ordered, at some mall, a concoction named taho (or tofu or soy milk). But let me go back to the original challenge — shout Tahoooooohh! in the usual manner. If you can’t , you’re missing the experience.
I really don’t know the exact English equivalent of taho. I’ve read somewhere that it’s Soy Pudding or Silken Tofu with Brown Sugar Syrup and Tapioca Pearls. The second names sounds more sosyal and it most probably appears in the menu of an expensive restaurant (I must say I’m highly distrustful of food items, when it takes more time to say the name than to actually chew it).
But if you’re buying it from the street, as it’s more popular as a street food, it’s simply called taho.
Taho is made up of three basic ingredients — soy or tofu (bottom photo), sago or tapioca pearls (photo to the right), and sweet caramel or brown sugar syrup (the brown liquid at the middle photo, which I heard is called arnibal).
It’s easy to spot, rather hear, a taho vendor even from a distance. Floating through the orchestra of tricycle/jeepney/bus noise, you’ll hear the distinctive call of Manong Magtataho who’s surely balancing a flat pole on his shoulder, with two steel containers hanging from both ends of the pole, shouting with a Rick Astley-esque voice: Tahoooooohh! Tahoooooohh! Now, say that again with a more modulated voice.
Service is swift. Flip the cover of one container to get the plastic cup. Flip the other container open, scoop the liquid off the top of the soy, fluidly scoop the soy into thin slices, placing it inside the plastic cup. Get the sago from the other container and place it in the cup. Get some caramel or arnibal and dip the whole thing inside the cup. Mix a little and voila! Taho on the run, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood magtataho.
Walang ganyan sa States.
Some would say it’s unhygienic (that doesn’t sound as bad as, say, dirty). See the large spoon or scoop at the right? The magtataho uses that to get the tofu. See that short handle in close contact with the tofu? The magtataho holds that handle every time he gets the tofu. Then he gets your money and gets the change, when needed. The the process is repeated again and again. Gross?
Maybe. But that’s street food. You can’t do that at the mall, although I bet it tastes different. You don’t have to say it — you like the street taho better.