It’s spicy and sweet, sour and salty and it is as diverse as the eclectic archipelago that we now call home. Indonesian food is a mixed bag based mostly around the staple carbohydrate of Nasi (Rice). We enjoy driving past the terraced rice fields that surround our satellite city and we admire the hard working farmers, who are out in force growing this little white tasty treat. The wet season is upon us and this means afternoon monsoonal rains heralded by booming thunder and flashes of blinding light.
Indonesian people eat rice for every meal. In the same way that we in Australia eat bread all day, e.g. toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and possibly garlic bread or the like for dinner; Indonesians will eat plain rice and a fried egg for breakfast, rice with side for lunch and the same for dinner.
I was told a statistic by an Indonesian colleague who explained that the average Indonesian will spend the largest proportion of their weekly earnings on rice followed closely by cigarettes. (Note that a packet of gaspers will only set you back about $1.30 AUD) The third biggest drain on finances is then education. So it’s Cigees over education......make of that what you will.
Anyway.....back to food. Indonesia is one of the Asian power house economies and is growing rapidly thanks to natural resources such as gas, oil and an endless supply of cheap labour. This means that the capital Jakarta is a modern mega city that makes my hometown look like a cute coastal village. This burgeoning economy brings with it, all the modern conveniences of food from around the world. In other words, any and every cuisine is available here in one of the many opulent themed restaurants. Talking about such places is boring because our Australian readers know these all too well........
Our truly exciting food experiences come from eating local food, made by local people. This is where this blog gets a little more interesting. So the famed ‘Emperor Nasi Goreng’ advertisement comes to mind on regular occasions. Everything is served with ‘Nasi’ or to a lesser extent ‘Mie’ (noodles). So a quick cheap bite is ‘nasi goreng’ or ‘mie goreng’, fried rice or fried noodles. Add to this some vegetables and a meat based spicy concoction and you have a whole genre of Indonesian food. Notice my school lunches below. This tasty fair sets me back $1.20 AUD and is the reason I love lunch time at school.
|An assortment of school lunches. They are cooked fresh tasty.|
The interesting difference here is that this food represents a proper meal. Indonesian people prioritise a hearty lunch and may go a little easier at dinner time. This is, of course, the way it’s supposed to be and is probably why they don’t experience the same obesity epidemic that inflicts our extravagant western society.
So I tend to eat muesli and pot set yoghurt for breakfast whilst Naomi will eat the same or fresh tropical fruit and yoghurt. Lunch will be whatever looks appealing in the school canteen. Note some of my table eating buddies and their chosen lunches.
|Note the little fish in the bottom right corner.|
| Hey Champ, can I take a picture of your lunch? |
No not the lunch already in your mouth. hehe
|My lunch time conversation is quite different |
to lunchtime conversation in a Fire Station. hehe
|Korean kids lunch and more below....|
The large Korean population in the area that we live in, translates to a large proportion of our student population being Korean kids. Their food is fascinating and is incredibly different to anything that I have experienced. Having said this, it is healthy and the kids display a mastery with chop stix that would humble even ‘Edward Scissor Hands’. My favourite Korean food staple are these little deep fried fish that the kids eat with rice and vegetables. They taste like anchovies, needless to say, that a close conversation with a Koreran student after lunch becomes a challenge of will-power to handle they ‘Zing’ being breathed out with every exhale.They have also introduced me to a number of different types of seaweed that are tasty and healthy. On a side note, we have learned as much about Korean culture including K-Pop, family dynamics and attitudes to education as we have about Indonesian culture. That country is also a power house as my Samsung S3 phone pronounces.
Red meat consumption is lower here due to the price of importing beef and lamb however there is plenty of Kambing(Goat). If I was to pinpoint my favourite local street food it would be Kambing Sate. Skewers of goat cooked over hot coals until lightly charred served with cucumber, tomatoes, baby red onions some chilli, crispy grlic and a Kechap manis based special sauce. It is truly delicious! Following closely behind this dish is Soto Ayam. This soupee bowl of deliciousness makes my mouth water just thinking about it. It reminds me of a Laksa but with quite a different flavour base.Yumm!
Honestly, the food here is a pleasure to experience and we continue to enjoy the new flavour combinations that we come across on a daily basis. We enjoy the diversity of culinary treats available and love the richness this adds to our new direction in life.
|Yes that is a 'pot of fire' being aerated by a small fan. It does the job!|
Sorry it’s a little long.....if you hung around reading this far, thanks for your interest!