Cool your jets, people. It’s not really dirty. It’s just a ploy of the big dairy corporations to discourage people from buying this alternative instead of their products…or at least that’s my theory. Now, of course, the small-time vendors couldn’t possibly make a dent on these companies’ revenue, but it’s plausible, right? Right?
(Okay, I need to eat one right now to calm down.)
Sorbetes, despite its name, is more sherbet than it is sorbet. It has been around since the Spanish occupation and had been served during the banquet on the proclamation of the Philippines’ Independence in 1898. From presidential dessert, sorbetes has gone on to be within the reach of the ordinary Filipino. Sorbeteros (the vendors) would store their goods, usually two to three flavors, on metal canisters built into either a wooden or a metal cart. Traditionally peddled on foot with the vendors pushing their merchandise, now sorbeteros make use of bikes with sidecars. They used to serve them on cheap ice cream wafer cones, but I haven’t seen those being used in the last few years. Back in 2016 in Pangasinan, I came across a sorbetero who served his goods on sliced bread. I personally wasn’t a fan, but an ice-cream sandwich could work for some. The product itself has innovated from traditional Filipino flavors like mango, keso (cheese) and ube (purple yam) to flavors introduced to us by the West like chocolate and strawberry. Even those big corporations I mentioned earlier have tried their hand at producing “dirty” ice cream. Or at least a boxed version of it. They can’t, however, replicate the feeling of excitement when you hear that bell or get a glimpse of that colorful beach umbrella in the middle of a hot summer day.
Sorbeteros are busiest during summertime but there are towns where you can find them roaming around anytime of the year. One happened to be around our area, and I was lucky enough to have heard the bell that signifies their presence.
I tried going back for more (and so I could get a better picture) but sadly he had moved on. No, that is not a line from a romantic movie. Like, literally, he had pedaled away. I’m not sure if I’ll encounter another sorbetero sometime in the near future but there are some things I know for sure.
One, they’re not really dirty. They’re quite good, actually.
Two, they’re sure to remind you of simpler, happier times.
Three, sometimes the best things in life are the sweet, little things that cost little to nothing at all.