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Let’s celebrate Independence Day by filling our tummies

Audrie Safira Maulana

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, August 15, 2019  /  01:13 pm
Let’s celebrate Independence Day by filling our tummies

The iconic gudeg from Gudeg Bu Djuminten. (JP/Audrie Safira Maulana)

Two malls in Jakarta are celebrating the upcoming 74th anniversary of Indonesia’s Independence Day, which falls on Aug. 17, by hosting traditional culinary festivals aimed at introducing legendary local foods to millennials.

First, there is the Pesta Kuliner Jogja, Solo dan Semarang (Joglosemar Culinary Party) at the Pondok Indah Mall in South Jakarta from Aug. 7 to 18. This festival features 40 food stands serving different traditional cuisines from the cities of Yogyakarta, Semarang and Surakarta, also known as Solo.

The Joglosemar food stands are available throughout Pondok Indah Mall’s North Skywalk, located on the second floor. The stands exude tantalizing and flavorsome aromas inside the skywalk to attract hungry customers, who can freely choose the cuisines they want to savor along the way.

One of the legendary cuisines available in the Skywalk is the gudeg — a traditional staple food from Yogyakarta consisting of unripe jackfruit, usually served with beef skin, hard-boiled egg, tofu, tempeh, chicken, and areh (coconut milk) — from a legendary vendor known as Gudeg Bu Djuminten.

Operating since 1927, Gudeg Bu Djuminten is one of the most popular gudeg vendors in Yogyakarta aside from Gudeg Yu Djum. The difference between these two vendors is the type of gudeg they serve.

“There are two types of gudeg — the dry one and the wet one. Gudeg Yu Djum serves the dry one, which is cooked using the remaining pulp of the coconut but without the areh. We serve wet gudeg that uses the areh,” explains Herdinda Arum, who happens to be Bu Djuminten’s great-granddaughter and is continuing the family’s culinary business.

Herdinda said that members of the younger generations should also participate in conserving Indonesian cuisines and hoped they would come to the festival.

“For me, it [the festival] is a positive event to introduce people to our cuisine and I hope that everyone can participate as well. Not just us, but also others of the young generations.”

Similar to Herdinda, Ningsih from Yogyakarta is also continuing his grandmother’s culinary business.

Ningsih’s culinary staple is known as jenang gempol (porridge) and her family has been selling it at the Lempuyangan market in Yogyakarta since the 1940s.

Jenang gempol from Lempeyengan Market, Yogyakarta.Jenang gempol from Lempeyengan Market, Yogyakarta. (JP/Audrie Safira Maulana)

“The jenang gempol can be made from ketan [sticky rice] and rice flour, with melted brown sugar and coconut milk as the condiment,” Ninggsih explained about her food.

Ningsih sees the festival as a chance for her to introduce jenang gempol to people from outside of Yogyakarta because as far as she knows, the traditional porridge is only available at her local market.

In addition, Ningsih said that she wanted to cater to Yogyakarta people who had been working in Jakarta and had been missing the porridge for a lot for years.

Alhamdullilah, a lot of [Yogyakarta born and raised] people came,” she said. "A lot of them miss their hometown."

Meanwhile, the Ciputra Mall in west Jakarta hosts the Kampoeng Legenda (Legendary Kampung) culinary festival from Aug. 7 to 18 too.

Spicy rice: Nasi Pedas Bali Made from Bali is one of the traditional cuisines served during the Kampoeng Legenda festival.Spicy rice: Nasi Pedas Bali Made from Bali is one of the traditional cuisines served during the Kampoeng Legenda festival. (JP/Audrie Safira Maulana)

Living up to its name, Kampoeng Legenda serves a total of 80 legendary traditional dishes. They have existed for a long time and been passed down over many generations. These dishes are available in various small stands spread throughout the Ciputra Mall’s center court.

Culinary expert Ade Putri Paramadita, one of the guests during the Kampoeng Legenda opening event, said that the festival offered authenticity.

For example, Ade tried the nasi krawu (traditional rice from Gresik in East Java) from the Nasi Krawy Buk Tiban Khas Gresik stand and she said that all of the ingredients and cooking methods followed the authentic tradition, making the cuisine taste the way it was meant to.

“The taste is a mixture of sweet and crispy, probably from the addition of coconut,” Ade saud.

“What makes this food authentic is actually the fried coconut flakes that have been given a sweet flavor.”

So far, the festivals at Pondok Indah Mall and Ciputra Mall have been a success with scores of hungry visitors coming in to enjoy the traditional cuisines. This success would not have been possible without the hard work of the Jakarta Innovative and Interactive Solution Communication (JIISCOMM), a collaborating partner that managed to convince traditional food vendors from outside Jakarta to participate.

“The difficult part is trying to change their mindsets to go out of their hometowns, especially when they live outside of Java. We try to persuade them by explaining the importance on conserving these traditional culinary,” JIISCOMM chief executive officer Febryanto Rachmat said.

A delicacy: Another traditional snack served in Kampoeng Legenda.A delicacy: Another traditional snack served in Kampoeng Legenda. (JP/Audrie Safira Maulana)

The decreasing popularity of Indonesian cuisine might not be noticeable, but it is slowly happening. By organizing traditional culinary festivals as such, the festival organizers hoped that visitors not only eat the dishes but also participate in the collective effort to preserve them.

“We are just a bunch of culinary activists who want Indonesian cuisines be the king in their own country,” Febryanto said. (hdt)

The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post.

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