Indonesians love Indian food

The Indonesians are crazy about food

Joskowitz is impressed by the extreme diversity of Indonesian cuisine. Even the sambals, which are served in small bowls with meals: “There are 300 types alone,” he says. The spice pastes range from mild to hot and fruity to salty. For some, fresh chili peppers are crushed with a mortar, for others the spices are fried in oil with chili and tomatoes. "Especially in the sharpness there are an unbelievable number of taste nuances that you only recognize after a few days, when you have gotten used to them a little."

The Indonesians are crazy about food anyway. Your kitchen is inextricably linked with everyday life. “'I like it‘ ", says Joskowitz," has a much more far-reaching meaning. Rather: 'It's nice that we're here together ‘."

Countless regional kitchens

The extent to which food shapes identity can also be seen in literature, in which the kitchen plays a major role. The novel “Pulang (Homecoming to Jakarta)” by Leila Chudori (Weidle Verlag), for example, is about an Indonesian family who emigrated to Paris and opened a restaurant there. The story is based on a true story. The emigrants who fled from the dictator Suharto could not cook at all, but since the French did not know what Indonesian cuisine tasted like, that was of little consequence. The cookbook author Petty Elliot, who is also coming to the Frankfurt Book Fair, has developed recipes from the dishes described in the novel.

Penetrating the diversity of Indonesian cuisine is a major project. There may be a few dishes that everyone in Indonesia knows, nasi goreng of course, rendang, satay skewers and pisang goreng, fried bananas, a popular street food snack. But on the one hand there are countless variants - there are over 50 common ways of preparing the rendang alone - on the other hand, even the Indonesians do not always have an understanding of who is eating what exactly.

Of the countless regional kitchens, only the largest are known nationwide. The cuisine from Sumatra is famous, which is vaguely reminiscent of Indian, but is also influenced by Chinese, Arabic and Malay. In Java, people tend to eat mildly, but in the north of Sulawesi they are spicy and the Moluccas are known for their fish dishes steamed in banana leaves. What exactly is eaten in Borneo cannot be seen in Bali.

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