The tall glass, filled to the brim with shaved ice and sweet corn, towered over the table. Perched regally atop was a lavish scoop of queso ice cream.

I burrowed through the ice with a spoon, attempting to stir the corn and ice together. I hesitated at first, worrying about the likelihood of a mess. Ice strewn all over the place. Spilled milk and melted ice cream on the once spotless table. After a few nervous, curt strokes, I realized my timidity was pointless. The mess I feared was inevitable. I poured more milk and dug deeper into the ice. I held the glass steadily with my left hand and stirred unrelentingly with my right. I churned up the corn with every turn of the spoon while my mouth watered for the sweet summer treat.

A taste of my maiz con hielo [mah-eez con yeh-loh] — literally, sweet corn with ice — instantly hurls me back home, back to the malls in Manila. They are an oasis during the hot summer months, a place of refuge from the grueling heat in the city. The closest shopping mall to our house was only two easy jeepney rides away. As a young adolescent, I spent slow summer days in its meandering, air-conditioned halls. I walked all day tirelessly. Aimlessly. I window shopped until I dropped, browsing through shirts and shoes I couldn’t afford and toys and trinkets I didn’t need.

A meager sum bought me happiness: a plate of barbecued chicken and java rice for lunch and a matinee pass for a Tagalog melodrama. I’ve always liked sad movies. The heartwrenching kind where a tragedy takes place in the first ten minutes but the story’s bida [bee-dah], the heroine, triumphs against life’s odds in the end. After a good cry at the movies, I treated myself to halo-halo or maiz con hielo at the food court downstairs. My afternoon merienda was the highlight of my excursion. I stirred the corn and ice while I watched the world in front of me pass by.

Happiness did not cost a fortune. Life was so simple back then.


Maiz con Hielo Recipe

sweet corn, fresh, frozen or canned
shaved ice
queso ice cream (optional)

Layer sweet corn and shaved ice in a tall glass. Fresh sweet corn is preferred but frozen or canned will do. Shuck fresh sweet corn, cook briefly in boiling water, then carefully strip kernels off the cob with a knife.

Add milk and sugar to your liking and stir everything together with a spoon. Indulge with a scoop of ice cream. Salty and sweet queso pairs wonderfully with sweet corn.


Maiz con Hielo

Maiz con Hielo

  • Anonymous

    Shaved ice with sweet corn was always delicious, its kind of a simpler halo-halo…call it only halo. lol! It was good on a hot day especially in days like these in San Diego where the temperature East of the City is hitting the hundred mark. Great Memories!

  • Anonymous

    this must be the most beautiful presentation of mais con hielo I’ve ever seen! thank you for sharing your story. you are right that happiness doesn’t cost a fortune! thanks jun!

  • Row

    That’s how I mix up a glass of halo-halo too… slowly and timidly at first, then I give up and go full throttle. Afterwards, I have to clean up the drips with a j-cloth. I still have some queso ice cream in the freezer and some canned corn… time to make dessert! :D

  • Tracey@Tangled Noodle

    There’s no room for neatness with this kind of treat! I always eat maiz con hielo and halo-halo with fistfuls of paper napkins and a healthy dose of mild cursing under my breath as I try to keep too much from spilling over the side of the glass. Adds a little sumpin’ sumpin’, don’t you think? ;-)

  • Amanda @ Easy Peasy Organic

    Our family favourite ice cream was a corn version we had in Brazill … still trying to recreate it! {This might just come close … }

  • Jun Belen

    I know, I’m a hopeless neat freak!

  • Jun Belen

    I think I have a sweet corn ice cream recipe tucked in a cookbook somewhere and when I find it I’ll send it over to you. I love finding bits of kernels in sweet corn ice cream!

  • Jun Belen

    WOW! It does really get stifling hot down in San Diego. This summer treat is absolutely perfect!

  • Rowena | Apron and Sneakers

    I prefer this over halo-halo. When the whole family goes out to have halo-halo, I was always the only one eating this. And gosh, I already forgot about this summer cold treat! Thanks for reminding me! By the way, I just did your version of binagoongan. I like it because it doesn’t stink the house. I will link you once I am done with my blog post. Thanks Jun!

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