This is about food. Indonesian food.
Several days ago, here in Australia, I read a review of a bagel kiosk in Jakarta. That review, published on one of famous newspaper in Indonesia said people love it. Then I remember how Indonesian people also love (and some even being addicted) to a soft, spongy donut, made by empire donut factory in Indonesia. Also I recall a bread boutique with variety of buns as soft as clouds and fluff. And pizza. Steak. Pasta. Kebab. Buns. Lots of.
I think I used to love that kind of stuffs too. Not anymore.
Awhile ago, I was craving for tumis daun pepaya. Sadly, you can hardly find that stuff here. Lucky, I found pare (bitter melon) in Asian store. That day, I had tumis pare on my plate for dinner. Eating my heavenly tumis pare, I was thinking compared to Indonesian food, Australian food has lots of lack (Well, this is purely my ‘humble’ opinion. Haha.)
In statistics, there are two different kinds of data: discrete and continuous data. Talking about taste and cooking techniques, I analogue Indonesian food to continuous data, while Australian food to discrete one.
We have extremely wide variety of taste, ranging from tasteless (papeda) to offensive vulgar and spicy (rawon mercon/sambal lado), from extremely sweet (gudeg/bacem) to utterly bitter (daun pepaya/pare/bunga daun pepaya), from deadly salty (ikan asin/telur asin) to heavenly sourly (sayur asem/sayur asin sawi). Moreover, to me, it is amazing how our society try to innovate awful taste into delicate dainty dish by mixing bitter with salty, salty with spicy, spicy with sweet, sweet with tasteless.
I don’t think Australians can enjoy bitter food as Indonesians do with them – full with enthusiasm and enjoyment. Bitter food is not on their list of heavenly food (perhaps they do on their drug list). Poor thing.
Now, I am thinking about pepes telur kodok, wader goreng, sayur pakis, gule kepala ikan, tumis oncom dan leunca, sayur genjer, buntil, mangut lele, lepet, cenil, hmmmmmm never ending list.
Indonesian food has continuous taste.
We also have huge variety of cooking techniques. Deep fried. Steer fried. Steam. Boiled. Bain-marie (water bath). Smoked. Grilled (please differentiate between babi guling and sate, both use grilled technique, but different). Ungkep. Dried. Fermented. With lots of lemon juice (and no need to cook the food anymore. This technique usually is for fish dish). Also the technique people in Asmat community use to cook their food: digging the hole in the ground, putting lots of nice fragrance leaves, setting the fire inside, and closing the ground. Have you ever seen that? Awesome.
Oh, by the way – I offered singkong goreng to my friend at office. She loved it so much. Yet, it was very hard to explain to her what is cassava (since she even had never heard or seen raw ‘cassava’ before. Google helped. She might want to know also what do tales, ganyong, gembili, ubi madu, gadung taste).
*after reading this posting, my friend told me she had a special meal for her dinner: steamed rice in kendil (Indonesian traditional cooking pot). She told me that the inside part of the pot was covered with banana leaf, which then used to wrap seasoned steamed rice. So basically it was not just ordinary ‘steam’ technique, considering banana leaf adds special additional fragrance and taste into the food. Heaven.*
How about this one. A while ago, I had a chat with a dear friend. We talked about traditional snack – I usually name it: gatot. He believed gatot is made from gaplek. It is true. But my dear old nanny had her own way to made it. She soaked peeled cassava in a bowl full of water for days – until it got moldy. Moldy? Yes. Moldy. White-peeled cassava then turned into gross-with-black-dots-(ex)-cassava. My dear old nanny then cut them thinly and dried them. Every time we wanted to have gatot, then she would soak dried-thinly-cut-(ex)-cassava pieces in bowl full of water until they turned soggy then steamed them. She served this gross looking dish with steamed young grated coconut mixed with sugar and salt. Yuck? Yes, but taste yum!
You might know another Indonesian cooking techniques that I don’t know. But, now – what do you think?
Yes, I think so too. In Indonesia culinary system, we can find the healthiest food as well as the detrimentalliest junk-food in the world – from different kind of taste. Albeit, I prefer to focus on healthy yummo food, which you can hardly find in Australia.
Then, reading those articles about bagle (or hearing my friend’s craving for fluffy donut) – I am wondering. Why Indonesian people love to spend their precious money to buy ‘full-with-preservative-cosmopolitan’ food, which compared to healthy yammo fresh Indonesian food – is nothing? Why they do not mind to line up, wasting their time (and money) for something ‘modern’ but ‘rubish’? *and certainly trouble our health?*
Right now, I am imagining cooking red snapper on one piece of banana leaf, pouring lots ginger, lemon grass, onion, garlic, and capsicum (both red and green) over the fish. Hmmm.
I can’t wait to visit my dad’s home. Tofu. Tempe. Urap. Megono. Fish. Daun pepaya. Daun singkong. Singkong rebus. Rujak.
Heaven. Heaven. Heaven.