The Jakarta Post
'Bondan Winarno lauds Balinese cuisine in a new book'
Words and Photos Anggara Mahendra
'Suckling pig is not the only traditional Balinese dish,' claimed Bondan Winarno, a famed traditional culinary writer and presenter, when launching his new book entitled 100 Maknyus Bali. Maknyus is Javanese slang meaning so delicious and yummy.
Together with Harry Nazarudin and Lidia Tanod from the traditional Indonesian culinary communities Jalan Sutra (Silk Road) and Bintang Indonesia (Indonesian Star), Bondan has meticulously written comprehensive reviews of 50 food stalls and restaurants serving authentic Balinese food and another 50 restaurants offering Indonesian, regional and international specialties.
Launched last Thursday at Bendega Restaurant in Renon, Denpasar, the book is written in Indonesian and English.
'I vividly remember when I first brought a group of visitors to Bali in the early 1970s; we could not find any food other than suckling pig, so we thought that the only Balinese food was suckling pig,' recalled Bondan, who had only found one restaurant serving Padang (West Sumatran) food on Jl. Gajah Mada in downtown Denpasar.
'But when I met I Gusti Aji Nyoman Darta, I learned how rich the range of Balinese dishes is. It was a real eye and heart opening encounter,' added Bondan.
In the course of their long friendship, Bondan obtained valuable information and knowledge about the history of Balinese food from the various regions.
'Every village, every district has its own special food, each with unique characteristics and flavors,' explained Bondan. Food from Gianyar, for instance, is rich in spices and colorful, while Denpasar is famous for its hot and spicy food. Karangasem in east Bali is proud of its tangy and savory flavor, while Singaraja is famed for its spicy dishes enriched with thick coconut milk.
This new culinary review and guide book is comprehensive and each reviewed restaurant includes the complete address and GPS coordinates.
'The selection of restaurants serving traditional Balinese food was based on our research and interviews with Aji Darta, while international restaurant picks were based on uniqueness and authenticity,' he said, adding that in Bali, for instance, there was only one restaurant serving Spanish food. How long a restaurant had been open was also part of the considerations.
The book not only reviews food and restaurants, but also honors the people behind the successful culinary journey. The writers call these people 'Food Warriors' and include the legendary Bu Oka, the founder and owner of Bali Guling Bu Oka in Ubud, Ni Ketut Cuki, popularly known as Mak Beng, who is famous for her fish soup in Sanur, and Aji Darta. The book also honors Janet De Neefe, Chris Salans and other culinary experts.
'In the past, we never used chemical-based seasonings in our food. Bali is rich in spices and herbs, which we call basa, and raw ingredients, all of which can be cooked into delicious food,' noted Aji Darta, who once worked as a palace chef at Puri Saren palace in Ubud, Gianyar.
'In Bali, we have to be very careful in choosing raw ingredients and spices, which should have health and spiritual benefits.' Turmeric, for example, contains iodine and anti-oxidant substances that can slow the aging process. Turmeric is also used as a herbal medicine for skin problems and cosmetics. f, or bay leaf, has health benefits to reduce cholesterol.
Previously, the three writers also published 100 Maknyus Jakarta, for which they were recognized with The Best in the World in 2014 and Best of the Bests in 2015 during the Frankfurt Book Fair by Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
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