Friday, 29 January 2010

Bungklang Bungkling: Dedaaran (Food)

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Dedaraan’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 24th January 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada

Dedaaran (Food)

There is a theory that one can tell the ‘character’ of a country by its traditional food, according to I Wayan Cupak Bagus.

The members of the group are happy today. Someone has sent them 200 tum (Balinese wrapped steamed pork meat) and 2 kgs of peanuts. No wonder: as the local elections are coming the team of each contestant is busy distributing things to attract constituents. They think that when one gives you something, just accept it: you can decide later which contestant you are going to vote.

“The Javanese are an example,” says Wayan.

The Javanese like bean curd (tofu) and fermented soybean curd (tempe). They are not expensive, easy to prepare, and can be combined with any kind of food.

“The point is that the Javanese are economical people, they don’t like to make things complicated or waste their time just for food matters.”

“That’s why they are able to save their money and they are hard-working people too.”

“They are very different from Balinese who are very complicated in food matters.”

“Take lawar (Balinese chopped food) for example. You need a lot different kinds of spices. It takes time and people to prepare too.” But it is stale in just a few hours.”

“On the other hand, if you want to eat tempe or tahu, you can prepare it yourself. You don’t need many people like when you make lawar.

“It means that Balinese like hanging around with their friends, spending lots of money for food.”

“As they hang around too much, they have less time to work then.”

And the Balinese eat too much pork too.

“After eating tempe you will feel healthy, but after eating pork you will feel sleepy. You can’t do any work when you are sleepy.

Nobody really listens to Wayan. They enjoy the tum and peanuts. They finish them all so nothing left for Wayan.

“Balinese also like spicy food which consists of different kinds of vegetables, like srombotan (spicy Balinese vegetable salad).

“They like food which makes you sweat when you eat it and can bring problems to your stomach.”

“That’s my opinion. Now, when our children eat pizza, KFC, and McDonald, it means that their characters may become like westerners,” Wayan keeps talking.

After talking too much Wayan feels thirsty and tries to get a glass of palm toddy — but nothing is left. Even the tum and peanut are also finished. That’s another kind of situation in Bali: “If you talk too much you will get nothing.”