Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I love laing and it's news to me

A few days ago, craving one of my favorite street foods, squid balls, I stepped out of Eastwood City, hoping to get my fix at one of the carts along C-5. To my surprise, none of the usual carts were there, perhaps removed from the area by traffic enforcers since new jeepney stops were in place. Still hungry and now frustrated, I decided to check out a new place a colleague had recommended, Señor Liempo.

Like the fishball carts, Señor Liempo is just outside Eastwood City. Located in the same area as Piandré and Omakase, it's an unassuming little place that's a little more than just a food stall with some tables and chairs. I think it can seat 20 (but don't trust me with numbers!). 

I ordered a set meal of their kiln-roasted pork belly (their specialty) and rice, and the young guy taking my order asked me if I wanted unlimited rice or a side dish with it. I told him unlimited rice wasn't an option because I was getting my food to go. He explained that I could get one order of extra rice instead -- which wasn't an option either as I was already having one cup too many.

So I asked him what the side dish was.

"Laing," he said.

Now, next to buro, laing is perhaps the most unappealing Filipino dish I've ever set eyes on. I've always thought it looked like somebody had chewed some leaves, changed their mind about swallowing it, and spit it out with some extra half-digested stuff--which is exactly how I would describe how buro looks, but instead of leaves it would be rice.

It didn't help that growing up I'd heard many of my friends say laing wasn't good. Except they used the word "yuck."

Still, since I'm cutting down on rice again, I grudgingly chose the laing side dish.

Back at the office, as I was thoroughly enjoying the liempo, I decided to give the laing a try. I dipped my spoon into the small container it came in and licked the spoon. Not bad. Then I tried half a tablespoon of it, ready to chase it down with rice and water. But there was no need--I absolutely loved it!

The next day, I had laing for lunch again. And typing this now, I'm hoping I can do a repeat. And I really rue the years I'd spent not eating laing only because I thought I wouldn't like it.

Which led me to wonder: What other things I actually like have I missed out on by listening to people who didn't like them? That question has been on my mind since. I mean, how much of what I think I like now that I'm in my mid-thirties was really shaped by other people's preferences?

I'm still thinking!