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Jakarta Post

Strands of time

Mon, November 14, 2016   /   04:37 pm
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    A cow slowly walks in a circle to pound the flour, the first step in making noodles. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    The noodles are placed in the steamer hut. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    The noodles are pounded into shape. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    Two workers carry the dough to be made into noodles. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    The noodles are sifted for the steaming process. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    The noodles are put outside to dry under the sun. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    The dried noodles are carried back to the factory. JP/ Agung Parameswara

Mie lethek [literally “dirty noodles”] in Indonesian cuisine, are traditionally made with no machines, but with cows and workers, most of whom are middle-aged to elderly.

In Srandakan village, there are two mie lethek traditional factories: Garuda and Busur Panah. The Garuda Factory owned by Yasir Feri Ismatrada is legendary; Yasir took over the family business of producing the noodles at the factory founded by his late grandfather in the late 1940s in the village of Trimurti Srandakan, about 30 kilometers southwest of Yogyakarta. Yasir’s family continues to use traditional processes to make their mie lethek.

Cows rotate a one-ton stone cylinder to grind the flour, a technique rarely seen today in mass production of noodles.

The factory has 30 employees, and it operates in a modest, simple atmosphere. Yasir himself, despite being the head of the factory, shows that he is no different from other workers. He said the factory’s purpose was to promote the well-being of local residents in Srandakan, rather than simply making a profit. Local residents have the opportunity to work in a factory without retirement and layoffs, and the age of the workers ranges from 40 to 70 years. Yasir puts great importance on the fair treatment of his employees, with management profits capped at 10 percent.

The noodles sell for Rp 8,000 [60 US cents] per kilogram.

JP/ Agung Parameswara