It was purely a coincidence that I was reading a book by Robb Walsh titled Are You Really Going To Eat That? Reflections of a Culinary Thrill Seeker when we made a stopover in Naga, Cebu for lunch today. A part of the plaza was used by the enterprising local government unit as entertainment and dining area where several seafood restaurants were offering some fare.
Coincidence because the book was talking about the author's esoteric and peculiar culinary expeditions all over the world and there we were at the plaza in Naga City deciding among the display what to eat for lunch. Some were peculiar indeed and were not-so-familiar type. Some I didn't even know could be eaten.
I decided to eat the kinilaw nga bat (sea cucumber salad, I think and I don't want to think of any other species), nilabog nga iho (shark in coconut milk), and a plate of milled corn. I asked the tindera if it was really shark meat and commented that they sure were illegal since they were an endangered species, to which she replied- I don't know. I was not sure though which shark was endangered. My companions chose tinolang isda, a salad out of the innards of the sea cucumber, nilabog nga pagi (manta ray, endangered too?), and some pork servings.
My choices were actually good. The sea cucumber salad was crunchy and sweet perhaps enhanced by the use of sukang tuba. The commercialized version of the nilabog shark meat was so-so, I could not even distinguish if it was chicken or real shark, although it was my first time to eat shark meat. But one thing I was sure of I could not taste the coconut milk, the ingredient that makes all nilabog desirable. A hefty sili solved that.
But in general, I felt wonderfully full.
This reminds me to visit that restaurant in Tagbilaran that offers an array of exotica in their menu including python meat (oh my!), deer meat, frogs, etc. I hope I could answer back when Robb Walsh will ask me- are you really going to eat that?
Nilabog nga iho (Shark meat cooked in coconut milk)
Nilabog nga pagi (Manta ray meat cooked in coco milk)