2nd day of Filipino gifts

Ube – looks scary, is often tasty

In November, one of my coworkers picked up a sampler cake from Red Ribbon, which just happens to be across the street from our studio. The sampler cake included this purple portion that my coworkers looked at with a perplexed expression. I could hear them thinking it – what in the world is naturally that purple? I had to explain that ube is purple yam and the base of a flavor mostly beloved by Filipinos that is naturally purple. Alan, the recipient of the birthday cake, decided to try it, and came away with a look that was not quite a grimace nor delight, then said, “I guess its an acquired taste.”
That most recent experience with ube inspired this gift. The sight of something so brightly purple is often jarring to folks for whom chocolate and vanilla cake is standard fare. Personally, I don’t like ube cake much (and even if I did, I prefer Goldilocks over Red Ribbon). But ube ice cream (I like the Magnolia brand, and evidently, its been awhile since I’ve had it) is pretty good. My mom loved it in halo halo, and yes, I used to steal bites off my mom’s halo halo ube ice cream when she wasn’t looking. (Oh, and in the process of doing my ube research, I discovered that Jollibee acquired Red Ribbon in 2005. Interesting.

So if you ever see a nearly fluorescent purple cake or moist bread pastry (puto), impress everyone with your newfound knowledge – it’s ube!

Photos from Eating L.A., Smartshopper.net and Diana’s Desserts.