Taho is a classic sweet snack in the Philippines. It is made with fresh silken tofu, amber-colored ‘arnibal’ or a syrup made with caramelized brown sugar and vanilla and translucent white sago pearls (similar to tapioca pearls). This staple comfort food is served in tiny snack-sized portions. The signature local dessert, is served warm in a 5 to 8 oz. plastic cup. It is popular as a light breakfast or as a merienda (afternoon snack) and can be enjoyed in the country year-round.
Back in the old days ‘magta-taho’ or taho peddlers can be found in the streets all over the country. They keep a habitual route and schedule and mostly ply their routes early in the morning. Occasionally, they can be seen in the late afternoon or evening as well. The taho vendor carries two large aluminum buckets connected through a pole that he hangs on his back and shoulder blades. His two buckets contain the separated ingredients wherein the larger bucket holds the tofu while the smaller bucket has the ‘arnibal’ and sago pearls.
Taho as part of the early morning routine
A familiar routine every early morning in the Philippines is that you will hear the ‘mangta-taho’ peddle their product by saying “Tahoooooo!” in a long and modulated tone. As soon as people hear him, they would rush to get some money and run outside to catch the taho peddler. Since he is waking constantly at a leisurely pace on the sidewalk, it’s easy to miss him. He would only stop in front of the house when someone is buying.
Buyers would bring their own cups or any container on where they would want their taho to be served. The taho peddler would then price the amount according to how much taho was placed on their container. For those who are bringing their own cup, the ‘mangta-taho’ has readily available plastic cups that are available in two sizes. As soon as the selling transaction has been done, the mangtataho would start to walk again to find other people who would also want to have a taste of the sweet tofu dessert.
Manner of eating Taho
This sweet treat can be eaten by slurping it straight from the cup. Meanwhile, some enjoy it by eating it with a spoon or sipping it with a straw.
Taho at present
At present, taho is still being sold, although there are slight changes already. Mostly the traditional ‘magta-taho’ can now only be seen in the province and rural areas with less high rise buildings and sophisticated establishments. For those living in the city, they can still buy taho in supermarkets, food stalls and some cafeteria. Also, other kinds are now available like the cold variety and strawberry and ube taho in Baguio.