I can’t believe it’s already Thursday and I only have 3 more days here in Indonesia. This 2 weeks is flying by!
Since we all love food, I thought it’d be fun to do a post about the food we’ve been eating here. In general, there’s a LOT of fried food and they use quite a bit of oil in their cooking, which is a big change for me. As foreigners, we also generally can’t eat fresh produce unless it has a thick skin or has been rinsed with a mixture of bleach and water, so I’ve been eating a lot fewer fresh fruits and veggies than normal. I’ve really enjoyed some of the local dishes, though, so I had to share about those (and a couple dishes that didn’t go over quite so well!)
Our hotel has a breakfast buffet with a mix of Western breakfast foods like toast and traditional Asian foods like fried noodles and fried rice. Since we eat Indonesian food for most lunches and dinners, I usually stick with familiar foods for breakfast and have been hitting up the omelette bar every day. Most of my breakfasts have been an omelette with fruit (like this yellow watermelon) & plain black tea to drink.
Lunch & Dinner
We’ve been eating out for lunch and dinner every day and we almost always go to the mall since malls are everywhere. We also almost always order family-style, so we get a bunch of dishes for the table to share. One of my favorite Indonesian dishes has been chicken satay, which is basically chicken kebabs with peanut sauce. It was served with gado-gado, which is mixed veggies (green beans, cabbage, some kind of Indonesian wilted greens, bean sprouts, & tempeh,), also covered with peanut sauce that I ordered on the side.
I love pasta, so I’ve also enjoyed some of the noodles I’ve had here, like this simple chicken and noodle soup.A popular thing to order at restaurants here is fruit “juice,” which is actually like a fruit smoothie because they blend frozen fruit and sugar together to make it. I’ve tried both strawberry and pineapple juices when an Indonesian-speaking friend asked for no sugar to be added and they were still great and really refreshing.Another new fruit experience was trying snake fruit, which has a scaly snakelike peel. It was interesting…the taste and texture were like nothing I’ve tried before, but I don’t think I’ll be too sad that I can’t find it in the U.S.
I also tried coconut water for the first time. We were visiting an area in the countryside and when we saw a coconut tree, one of the locals who was 15 or 16 scampered up the tree, whacked the coconuts with his machete, and knocked 3 of them down. He whittled them open and we drank right from the shells. It was kind of awesome.I also had a not-so-awesome food experience at lunch one day when I ordered some kind of hot and sour soup with chicken and veggies. See those small green veggies on the right side of the bowl? They’re green chili peppers that are used to flavor the soup and apparently, you’re not supposed to eat them because they’re really spicy.
I didn’t get the memo, and popped one into my mouth with my chopsticks, assuming it was a green bean. I quickly realized my mistake when my mouth felt like it was on fire about 5 seconds later, but it was too late.I downed my giant 1.5 liter water bottle in about 60 seconds, eyes watering and mouth on fire while my friends laughed and filmed it. Looking back on it, it really was pretty funny! After that, it took maybe 30 minutes for the burning to go away.
Speaking of non-Indonesian food…we went to an “Italian” restaurant in the mall one night. I ordered baked rigatoni, a risky move since cheese isn’t really used in savory dishes here. (They mostly use it in their desserts and they love pairing cheese with chocolate, like in cakes. And there’s usually just one kind of cheese,”Indonesian cheese,” which is really processed.)
The cheese ended up being fine, but after I took a couple bites, I realized that there were kidney beans and chopped pieces of hard-boiled egg mixed into the sauce below the top layer of pasta. Hmmm…interesting..We went to Chili’s one day for lunch and I ordered the chicken fajitas, which tasted just like they do in the states. I’ve been surprised by how many chains (Burger King, KFC, McDonalds, Carl’s Jr, Chilis, Coldstone, Baskin Robbins Gold’s Gym, etc.) are here in the Jakarta malls!We also went to a restaurant with safe raw produce one night and I ordered the make-your-own family-size salad for my entree. It came in a mixing bowl and I demolished the entire thing, no problem. It’s amazing how good salads taste after not having them for a while.Those were just a few of the meals we’ve had so far (for the most part, the more delicious ones). Eating out is a bit different here since we basically just point at what we want on the menu and it’s hard to ask for healthy restaurant substitutions like I normally would, such as “no butter, please” or brown rice instead of white (they actually don’t even have brown rice here).
I’ve had melon every day at breakfast and we’ll usually stop by the grocery store to pick up water bottles so I’ll grab some bananas, but that’s pretty much the extent of the produce I’ve been able to eat (although there are cooked veggies sometimes…usually they’re just coated in lots of oil). A giant grilled chicken salad with lots of fruits and veggies on top will taste heavenly when I get home!
I’ll fly back on Sunday and hopefully be able to check in again on Monday! And don’t forget that today (Thursday) is the last day to enter my KIND bar giveaway– it’ll close at 11:59 pm EST.
Questions for you:
What’s the strangest food you’ve tried?
Octopus- it was purple and chewy.
Coldstone, Ben & Jerry’s, Haagen Dazs, Dairy Queen, or other?
Probably Ben & Jerry’s or Coldstone for me.
Do you like coconut?
It depends on what it’s in, but I usually do. I used to love Almond Joys!