Dinner and beyond in Jakarta park
The Jakarta Post
The busy and noisy Jl. TB Simatupang next to little-known Tanjung Park in South Jakarta did not affect guests dining at the Makan Di Luar (Eating Outside) event who enjoyed a sundry of healthy and tasty delicacies on Friday evening.
Just like fine dining at an expensive restaurant, the guests sat at tables covered with white linen while having the privilege of a waitress attending each table.
A band playing mood-setting music as well as colorful lamps hanging from the trees further imbued the evening with a pleasant ambience.
Before enjoying the delicious menu selections, guests received information about organic food and its philosophy. They even took a blind taste test to see whether they could differentiate between organic food and non-organic food.
'You can choose which tomato, banana and salad you like,' Santi Wibisono from Organik Klub vegetable store explained to the guests.
As the night continued, the menu items were introduced one by one.
The dishes, most of which were made of organic ingredients, comprised gado gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce), ayam tangkap (Acehnese-style fried chicken), vegetarian burgers, jelly and honey cake and cassava cake. Each course was provided by local businesses that mostly use organic produce, like Warung Kebunku, Atjeh Rayeuk, Burgreens and Anjani.
After dinner, guests were also spoiled with various fresh and healthy juices made from lime, cucumber, mint and lychee, as well as coffee, from Elevate Juicery, Tanamera Coffee and Gajetto.
The dining experience was one of the last events of the three-week program organized by the Hidden Park initiative from Sept. 6 to 28.
Rayi Putra Rahardjo, a 27-year-old participant, said he was amazed by the atmosphere while having dinner in the park.
'The road behind us is one of the busiest roads, especially on Friday night, while the park is also not too big. However, when I was having dinner, I totally forgot that I was sitting near a busy flyover and a train station,' he said.
Rayi, a musician, said the event was perfect for him as he supported any effort to popularize parks in Jakarta as well as eating healthier food.
'I love visiting parks when I need fresh air, especially when I do not have time to go to Puncak or Bogor [in West Java],' he said, adding that Langsat Park in South Jakarta was his favorite.
He said programs like Hidden Park gave people ideas about what parks could be used for.
The Parks and Cemetery Agency records that Jakarta has nearly 1,000 parks but only 15 are suitable for use as public space, while most of them are ill-maintained and abandoned.
Makan Di Luar project manager Batara Indra Soepraba said the event was aimed at taking the idea of activities in parks to the next level. 'We can get people to enjoy semi-fine dining in the park, so there will be no excuse [for saying] that there are not many possible activities you can do in parks,' he said.
Batara said by holding events like Makan Di Luar as well as other Hidden Park activities, the stigma surrounding parks as dirty, dangerous and uncool places, especially at night, would diminish.
'We also invite local food entrepreneurs to promote and empower local food,' he said.
Batara, who is also a food-justice activist, said that entrepreneurs needed to reach out to the masses and people needed to get educated about food.
'When we eat, we need to be conscious about what we eat and where it comes from,' he said.
Helga Angelina, a 23-year-old entrepreneur who owns vegetarian restaurant Burgreens, said she participated in the event because the concept was similar to her restaurant. 'Our restaurant is also outdoor and serves organic food,' she said.
Helga said she personally loved visiting parks and wanted to be part of promoting their revival. 'We need to make people think that hanging out in parks is cool,' she said.
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