I planned months ago to escape England for a few weeks in horrid January to travel back to Indonesia. Firstly, to visit my family, secondly, to learn more about my mum’s cooking and lastly, to travel a little bit with my old friends from school who are all very much into food and eating. Therefore, many places and varied types of food were visited, tasted, commented on, and copied but there was still a lot more missed because of time and waist availability! Next trip beckons…
A typical food from Jogja/Yogyakarta – GUDEG – jack fruit based stew with all the trimmings (chicken, egg, tofu) cooked in thick spicy coconut milk.
My friends and I were taken by a local driver to a well known Gudeg place on the day we arrived In Yogyakarta or Jogja (Central Java). The only snag was that this place only starts taking orders from 10.30pm-ish. We got there a good ten minutes before opening time (and we thought we were early!), but the queue was already a kilometre long – and that was just outside this private house. As we got closer to the door, we realised that there was also a queue inside the house, and there were only three people serving these hungry people! They were serving in a typical Javanese way, i.e. very, very slow and with no pressure whatsoever. They were all very charming and friendly, joking kindly to the punters. I wished then I’d had a good lunch that day as we landed in Jogja at around 2pm. It was a long time before supper!
It was worth the wait in every sense, even though some of the trimmings had finished by the time we got to the front of the queue and it was just before midnight. We sat on a mat on the floor as there were not many tables and chairs available: the owners just spread bamboo mats in their sitting area and around the patio in the garden. We finished eating and took notice that there were people still in line inside the house. Surely there couldn’t be anything else to eat. Then we realised that they were University students who were quite happy to eat whatever was left at a very discounted price. This local food cannot be kept, especially as many people still don’t own refrigerators, so as soon as it’s ready, it has to be consumed. It takes ages to cook this, then for the food to develop its flavour, hence the opening time!
The queue and queueing
The next day we searched for other things that would remind us of our childhood.
Markets! Open air markets… they are now much more orderly and controlled, but still sell food that we remembered. Street food, cemilan (nibbles or small snacks) can be found everywhere. I find it difficult to differentiate snacks and main food as my people and most Asian people eat all day long and you can eat whatever you fancy at any time of the day. I miss this style of living!
Street food and vegetable market
Another typical restaurant and dish in West Java. This dish is called Nasi Uduk, all on one plate. May look a bit intimidating, but yummy.
I’ve been back home for over a month now, and my trip back to Indonesia already seems like a distant memory. But at least I can keep the memory alive in my kitchen!
If you are keen to taste Nasi Uduk and/or other Indonesian/Asian cooking at my house, please let me know. See ‘Dinner at mine’.