It was in December 1973 when I first visited Penang. I was only 21 then…and it was then that I tried Penang laksa for the first time in my life. My friends praised it to the skies and insisted that I should sample the specialty of the island, so I did…and I did not like it. It did not look appetising – greyish black and as Queue often says, like shredded newspaper. I remember there was some cucumber and it had a peculiar taste. Since then, I never wanted to touch it again.
However, the other day, I stopped by a stall near my parents’ house. It was actually some housewife selling a few things at the gate of her house to supplement the hubby’s income. I don’t suppose she has the license to do that but at hard times like this, I must say that I do appreciate her effort in helping out to make ends meet…which is definitely better than what many are doing – turning to crime, for one and hence, the escalating crime rates in the country.
Anyway, that morning when I stopped by, she had some Penang laksa and since it was only RM2.00, I thought I would give it another chance and bought a packet…
For one thing, it did not look that bad…and when I tried it, I found that it was actually quite delicious. It had its own unique taste, kind of exotic in a way with a special fragrance that some people may not take a liking to or will need time to get used to. Maybe it was the torch ginger (bunga kantan) plus all the other things in it – I think I saw some curry leaves and I was positive I tasted some belacan as well.
Maybe I was still a greenhorn way back then in 1973, having left home for the first time and never exposed to dishes other than the familiar ones in Sarawak in general and specifically, in Sibu…and hence, my tastebuds were not that adventurous at that point in time.
This second time around, I have to say that I quite enjoyed it and I would not mind going for it again. But comparatively, in my opinion, I still think our very own Sarawak laksa is nicer…
What do the rest of you think?