Today, I finally did something I’ve been trying to do for months – have lunch on the floor with the Goodies waitresses.
Typically, when the lunch crowd thins out, you will find a group of the waitresses eating
behind the counter, on the floor, with their fingers. They buy meals wrapped in banana leaves from somewhere else, which are very inexpensive and often delivered by an ojek (motorbike) rider. The meals might be ayam bakar (BBQ chicken), ikan bakar (BBG fish), beef rendeng (very spicy) or chicken curry, and all with mounds of rice.
The girls will sit in a circle on the floor, the meals on the floor in their paper and banana leave wrappings. Fingers are used, not eating utensils. And there are no shoes allowed.
I keep telling them I want to eat with them sometime but they always look at me strange
and giggle. Today, I sought out Risma before lunch and said I wanted to share lunch with them and I would pay. So, about 1:30, we had lunch.
They all know my aversion to spicy food so I was given a relatively mild, but still spicy, chicken and rice. Five of the girls shared three meals, two with chicken and one fish and chicken. The portions are large but the prices were about $3 each delivered.
We have two new waitresses and they looked like they thought I was a madman. The others are kind of used to my craziness. The girls all gave me a little of what they were eating, so I was able to try the fish and some dried beef, and a couple other items I could not identify. Through it all, Risma acted like a mother hen, showing me how to eat with five fingers (I used three, quite unsuccessfully), picking food from other meals and adding to mine, etc. Dayati also brought out some curry chicken she had made, saying it was not spicy, but their idea of spicy and mine are somewhat different.
Through it all, there were many laughs and giggles as the bule struggled to eat like the
locals. These were typical local dishes and a typical way of eating here. All in all, the food was very good, although I managed to spill almost as much rice on my lap and the floor as I put in my mouth. Rice is a bit slippery when you coat it with sweet soy sauce (kachup manis).
And did I mention my knees are no longer able to allow me to sit Indian style? And sitting like the girls did, on their knees, is definitely not a possibility, either. The girls got a kick out of that.