I went to lunch with our host here in Manila and he insisted on buying me a local drink. Usually this means I should prepare myself for something stronger than I would normally drink at noon, but hey, mom always said try new things, right? Well it was every bit as strong as expected, but not in the way I expected at all.
Many northerners I’ve met seem to enjoy making fun of how terribly sweet southerners make their tea. These people have obviously never tried Sago Gulaman. This stuff would make a glass of sweet tea at a Georgia Cracker Barrel seem like Earl Gray by comparison.
Sago Gulaman is a non-alcoholic drink that I think must be made by pouring just enough water over a pile of brown sugar so that the crystals will dissolve completely, then pour that over (get this) jelly, before adding ice and little balls of jello. Since the camera-phone picture above that I took is of such poor quality, below is a web image that most closely resembles what I had. A reasonably clear picture was harder to come by than I had expected. The only explanation that I could think of while doing my web search is that most pictures of this drink are taken just as the photographer is beginning to enter diabetic shock.
The drink is not as thick as pancake syrup, but it is every bit as sweet, if not more so. The first thing that struck me was how fat the straw was. It was almost large enough in diameter to drop a dime through. I quickly discovered the reason for this. See those little white balls in the picture above? It was nearly impossible to take a sip that was not accompanied by the “thhhwunk” of one of these things hitting the roof of my mouth as it got sucked up into the straw.
“How do you like your Gulaman?”
“Mmm, (thhhwunk). Wow, I’ve never had anything like this before. (thhhwunk thwunk). Hey you wouldn’t happen to have any spare insulin on you, would ya?”