Monday, August 23, 2010

Bali: The Things We Ate

For "budget travelers" we probably spend more than most on food. We're happy staying in a total dump if it allows us more wiggle room in the eating department. Bali was billed as a vegetarian paradise and it didn't disappoint. The veg options were sometimes limited but you could always find something. This is in stark contrast to places like Guatemala where you'd sometimes have to ask if they had eggs and potatoes and could they just fry those up please?

As for protein, they eat tofu, tempeh, eggs, peanuts, etc. For instance, gado gado is a plate with all of those, plus veggies. Sometimes the tofu had a weird taste; maybe it wasn't too fresh. You couldn't go wrong with the tempeh although no belly can handle too many fermented soybeans. It's unclear why the Japanese don't eat it. They're doing everything else but with soybeans. Aside from frying it in yummy sauces and including it in stews, the Balinese were making tempeh burgers.

In Ubud we took a vegetarian Indonesian cooking class. We learned to make a number of dishes including the all important sambal--chili based sauce/condiment. Here's what it looked like when John was mashing it up with the mortar and pestle:

By far our favorite Indonesian dish was Sayur Urab(p)-- cooked vegetables with grated spiced coconut on top. Oftentimes it had green beans, which we haven't really seen in Japan. It's like cottage cheese--you don't realize you miss it until you're 6 months into living in Europe and start looking for it at the grocery store. Sayur Urab manifested in various ways:

As for drinks, you could always get fresh juices of all kinds, my favorite being pineapple. Juice with yogurt = lassie (best with mango). Bintang or Bali Hai beer. Arak, the local spirit made with palm sap or rice, was really effective and tasty. We also drank a lot of Balinese iced tea with ginger. For a splurge on our last day we began our meal with young coconut for me and a kombucha tea for John.

There are a number of things that are difficult to find or expensive to buy in Japan that we procured in Bali. While we bought some gifts for friends/family and souvenirs, our bags were also full of things like:

vanilla beans, hoisin sauce, flax, lemongrass, curry paste, coconut syrup, dark chocolate, coffee, Indonesian peanut paste, cous cous, barbecue sauce, toothpaste with fluoride and various other spices and odds and ends!

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