I was hard at work in my tiny kitchen yesterday cranking out plethora of tasty Indonesian dishes to share with you. I typically keep myself so busy during the summer that my efforts in the kitchen become rushed and lackluster at best, and I naively thought that my worldly food tour would prevent that from happening. Unfortunately I can’t say this has been the case, and despite the fact that I like this food just as much (for the most part, in a different way), cooking the South Pacific has been a chore and not the pleasure that spending all day cooking a Beef Bourguignon was in France this past winter.
Rare is it that I have a day to myself to spend in the kitchen. My own doing- I overbook myself with splendidly fun summer activities. Yesterday was a treat, and my empty schedule meant that I was on my feet peeling, chopping, sautéing, steaming, boiling, baking etc. from approximately 12 to 8. And had a blast doing it.
When looking at the map, I was sure that I’d have a ton of countries to do upon arriving in the South Pacific, but soon realized that all those islands were all part of Indonesia! The country is made up of approximately 13,000 islands which stretch from the island of Sumatra to the west, directly south of Thailand, to Irian Jaya, just north of Australia to the east.
Besides fruits and veggies, Indonesia’s claim to fame comes in the way of spices. Nutmeg, cloves, and pepper drew traders from India, China, Africa, and the Arab world, and later, European explorers and colonists and the Indonesian islands, particularly the Malukus, became known as “the Spice Islands.” I love spices and Apple Crisp and I often lament the underseasoning of “normal” food since we veer to curries and the like so often. Most Indonesian food shares the nearly universal foods of fish, coconut and chile, which is similar to what I’ve seen thus far in the area. As far as starches, rice is the most popular, followed by a variety of tubers and tapioca (sago). Favorite veggies are leafy greens and cabbage, and proteins are usually limited to eggs, fish and chicken.
Sounds delicious right? The problem with this? Too much food for my party of one. The work folks are going to love me this week…