When it comes to sampling strange, exotic flavors, I am no chicken. I normally eat anything I'm fed (in high school, some sugarcane farmers in Tarlac served me a plate of field rats and I flinched not). But hey, everything tastes sweeter when you're in good company--or so I thought, until I nibbled on my first morsel of alligator at Tagaytay Highlands.
Taking advantage of the long weekend, my dad, two sisters, a brother-in-law and I trooped to Tagaytay last August 22 to have our fill of meat at the Highlands' famed steak house. And as we were ordering our surf n' turf, a waiter dared us to try some new protein--gator, which they apparently import now from the U.S. My sister Eileen, who has tasted alligator many times in the States where she lives, seemed vaguely interested. But my brother-in-law Louie and I jumped at the opportunity--we requested one plate to be shared by all five of us.
In fairness, the dish looked pretty, and the gator meat seemed it could fall off easily from the gator bone. But the piece I forked was dry and fibrous--not succulent at all. Worse, it emitted a gamey aroma that matched its gamey flavor. Major turn-off. Maybe the meat was stored too long in the freezer. Maybe it wasn't seasoned well enough. Maybe Filipino chefs aren't yet as skilled as they can be in preparing the strange meat.
Eileen insists that alligator tastes like chicken. It might take a trip to the U.S. for me to prove her right. Meanwhile, the plate we ordered remained half touched.