The Jakarta Post
Traditional food 'papeda' made from sago. (Charles Toto's Facebook/File)
Papuan chef Charles Toto, popularly known as the Jungle Chef, mentioned that although several residents of Papua have started to reintroduce local culinary, such as promoting sago as one of the traditional dishes, many perceive the local food as kampungan (unsophisticated).
Charles Toto is the man behind the Jungle Chef Community. (Charles Toto/File)
“[Around] 90 percent of people have this perception,” Charles told The Jakarta Post via telephone.
He mentioned that trend was a result of modernization, which led Papuans to get a chance of sampling food from outside the island.
In addition to the negative perception of local foods, the people also do not have the awareness to use their lands to cultivate local food products. “Sago forests, which is the center of local food, are starting to be [destroyed],” he said.
Read also: West Papua villagers fight for forest rights
The man behind the Jungle Chef community, a group that teaches local people in tourist places to cook, predicted that if the trend keeps happening, the tradition would eventually disappear. Therefore, Charles suggested the people to start preserving traditional food.
“Sago and tubers are good for health,” he added.
Having said that, Charles tries to promote Papuan gastronomy through food diplomacy. So far, the chef had joined several food events, including the 2017 Ubud Food Festival (UFF) and Festival Kuliner Nusantara (Indonesian Culinary Festival), to promote Papuan dishes.
He expressed his hopes that the local government would give more support to the community and learn more about traditional food. “We are trying to preserve the tradition of our ancestors," he said. (asw)
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