Saturday, March 24, 2018


Prior to the rapacious colonialists sailing over to stake their claims by drawing pithy lines on a map, the borders between our South East Asian countries were astonishingly porous with ships and sampans making their way all over the local ports. After a visit to Jakarta, it has become even more obvious that we share more similarities than differences, from our shared language to the food we serve on a daily basis.

Really it's sheer ridiculousness to even claim a famous dish, a cultural practice or a folk song as your own when it was clear that none of the new nations should actually do so since it belongs to the people of the entire area, regardless of their current nationalities. 

But I digress. 

Since the sole complaint I actually had about Bali was the conspicuous lack of palatable food, I was initially worried that I'd have to subsist painfully on Indomie every other evening. I mean sure I'm a great fan of instant noodles but surely I didn't fly over to a foreign land just for that particular delight. 

Yet again, Jakarta clearly proved me wrong since the food here is... just amazing. Or perhaps just more agreeable to my specific tastes since Javanese food in Jakarta didn't really differ all that much from what we have back here in Malaysia. 

Spices yum. 

It didn't mean we weren't initially stumped by their extensive menus. Not only had the Dutch made their own peculiar stamp on the culinary practices here with their poffertjes and pannekoeken, they had also left behind certain words and phrases that made every little dish strangely alien to us. And we hadn't even taken account of the differences in our local Malay and their Indonesian Malay.

A thought to ponder upon with Billy Davidson!

Even for teatime when presented with an entire batik-covered tray of beautifully prepared kueh, I found myself perfectly stumped when the names were rattled off repeatedly by the kebaya clad servers. From ongol ongol to kueh kelepong, the words were all mystifying even though they all vaguely resembled the kueh I knew back home. Imposters I wanted to cry out! Think of it as our very own kueh but with their very own Indo-Dutch twist.

Absolutely scrumptious that's all I can say!

And the beautiful ambience of their restaurants certainly added to the experience. Say what you will but the Indonesians spared no cost in decorating their restaurants lavishly. Glam to the max. And more. Even the austere colonial buildings were clearly no match for the local razzle-dazzle that totally transformed each plain Dutch wife into an enchanting Javanese stunner.

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