One of the cultural things you have to expect in Indonesia is a group of strangers showing up unannounced at your home, brought there by an Indonesian friend of yours. At Christmas two years ago, this happened to me when my girlfriend at the time showed up at my apartment with nine people, including her father. They were mostly her family, including five children, but I had never seen them before. Her father brought me a gift, a watch, which prompted me to give him something very valuable – a Boston Red Sox hat.
I ordered a seafood pizza for the crowd, which devoured it in a couple of minutes. They just sat around chatting awhile before leaving.
This happened again today when a friend showed up with four of her friends. Two were interested in the apartments for rent here. Luckily, I had some tea almost ready to drink, only needing sugar. And then I went out to get some fried treats from a street vendor I pass on my way to the wet market every week. I had no idea what I was ordering – four (empat) of those, four of those, four of those, I said. They were Rp1,000 each, or less than 10 cents. Of course, when I returned, my guests were leaving, leaving me with the plate of food below. One of these is called bakwan, a second I’m sure is tofu and the third tasted like a vegetable and had a white flesh.
I’ve been wanting to take pictures of some of my meals here, if only to show people that living on a budget here does not mean eating poorly. Quite the contrary. Below is my breakfast today – eggs simmered in real butter, bakwan and tofu (with strawberry jam), and a mix of pork, green and red peppers, and onion, seasoned with rosemary and thyme. Bacon would have been good but I haven’t yet found any in Batam, so pork was substituted.
My dinners sometimes can look spectacular, and taste just as good – grilled grouper the other night (fantastic) with Indonesian-spiced noodles, or grilled pompano with mashed potatoes and seasoned greens.