|Place of origin||Philippines|
Sorbetes is a traditional ice cream originating from the Philippines and uniquely characterized by the use of coconut milk and/or carabao milk. Often pejoratively called "dirty ice cream", it is distinct from the similarly named sorbet. It is traditionally peddled in colorful wooden pushcarts by street vendors called "sorbeteros". It is served in various flavors (usually dyed in bright colors) in small wafer or sugar cones and more recently, as a pandesal bread ice cream sandwich.
Ice cream was introduced in the Philippines during the American Occupation when refrigerators and other cooling devices were introduced. While American ice cream was made with cow's milk, using the milk of the carabao resulted in a cheaper product which became known as "sorbetes". Both kinds of milk are widely used today. Coconut milk and cassava flour are two other ingredients used that make sorbetes distinct from ice cream made in other countries. Flavors also varied from the usual natural fruits and plants such as mango, ube, avocado, melon, jackfruit, coconut and strawberry to flavors imitating commercial ice cream such as chocolate, cookies and cream, cheese, mocha, etc.
The sorbetes industry competes with commercially available ice cream from giant companies operating in the Philippines such as Arce Dairy, Esmerald, Darchelle, Magnolia, Nestlé, and Selecta, which also recently started selling their products on the streets in more modern refrigerated carts.
Sorbetes are peddled by sorbeteros (ice cream vendor) using colorfully painted wooden carts which usually can accommodate three flavors, each in a large metal canister. Peddlers get their carts from makers scattered around the cities of the Philippines in the morning and walk the streets the whole day, calling consumers from their houses by ringing a small handheld bell.
The wooden cart has two large wooden wheels at the front part to easily push the cart though latest carts are already attached to bicycles.
The cart is stuffed with shaved ice sprinkled with salt to produce a lower temperature around the metal canisters and keep the sorbetes frozen longer.
The whole sorbetes cart is also available for private gatherings when negotiated with the sorbetero. It is usually cheaper than buying gallons of ice cream to be served to guests.
Sorbeteros provide several serving options. It may be served in a wafer cone, a sugar cone or a bread bun, at varying prices. A serving can include one flavor or, for no extra charge, a mixture of available flavors.
The Sorbetero has also been depicted in film and in song such as the 1979 film Mamang Sorbetero, and the song "Mamang Sorbetero", performed by Celeste Legaspi.