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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

Keep calm…

Photo credit to Alea for discovering our new favorite neighborhood street food stall (mie ayam = a very simple yet popular chicken noodle dish)

At least it isn't goreng...

Sulawesi Traditional Treats

What could give us a more perfect welcome to Sulawesi than trying some food and drink that are tried and true yummies in the area? We headed off for a day’s trip, and ran into some true gourmet delights!



Korean Kuisine

Alea and Breck seated at the cook-em-at-your-own-table Korean barbecue jointSusan and I worked in Korea long, long ago, and I fell in love with the food. I was really lucky to have 2 Korean kids travel with me to the Mathcounts competition, and we chowed when we stopped over in Seoul on the way back.

One of the families wanted to take us out for dinner, and set things up at a local Korean restaurant (according to all reports, the best in Jakarta). Unfortunately, Susan was still feeling the effects of her food poisoning from this weekend’s adventures, and so had to sit this one out. Alea and Breck, however, were true risk-takers and joined me for their first-ever taste of Korean food.

(As an aside, I have a sign Breck made for me when he was about 4 years old with a big red “X” drawn over a red and green squiggle with the caption “This is a no-kimchi zone.” So I’ve known for a while where their taste bud loyalties were!)

Once we showed up, and all the little side dishes were brought out, however, they really were good about trying things. Our particular meal was very light on the seafood, which I think made things easier, and by the time the barbecue was lit up at our table, Alea was in heaven.

We ate and ate and ate (with Breck experiencing some measure of a learning curve on the chopsticks), only to find that the “meat” portion of the meal was to be followed by the “dinner” part – and we were already stuffed! We enjoyed some noodles and rice, and then rolled ourselves on home. I was very pleased with the way the kids tried things they’d never had before, and I foresee some Korean food in our future (at least for Alea and me!).

Indonesian Haute Cuisine

Packaged chicken skinGrocery shopping today, I passed the meat counter, and there was fried chicken for sale. I felt like a snack, and took the smallest packet available. When I opened it up, though, I was in for a surprise:

It was a packaged portion of fried skin! I always get mocked at the in-laws’ Thanksgiving dinners, when my brother-in-law and I fight over the turkey skin. Well, apparently we would not be laughed at in Jakarta, where it is available in the local supermarket.

Eat your heart out, Uncle Kevin!

Veg versus non-veg

Domino's Veg and Non-Veg stickersIndia is a vegetarian’s heaven. Besides all the fresh fruits and veggies that are available in the markets, at roadside stands, and in neighborhood carts, the idea of vegetarianism permeates the culture. Religiously, it makes sense. Since India welcomes all sorts of different faiths, including those that won’t eat beef (Hinduism), those that won’t eat pork (Islam and Judaism), those that don’t believe in killing any creatures at all (Jainism), and those that don’t prohibit meat but still kinda sorta recommend against eating dead animals (Buddhism), the easiest way to avoid any misunderstandings is to stick to a vegetarian path.

As such, all food that is packaged in any way is marked as either being ‘vegetarian’ or ‘non vegetarian’ with little green or red dots. Menus in restaurants (if the place isn’t billed as “Pure Veg” to begin with) always differentiate between vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Even McDonald’s has a completely separate Veg menu (including such favorites as the McVeggie, McAloo Tikka, Paneer Salsa Wrap, and Veg McCurry Pan).

Of course, this also means that meat dishes can be few and far between – as well as expensive. We bought 3 pork chops the other day (frozen, not at a restaurant) that cost 600 rupees: fifteen dollars!!! We have since found out that there are alternate places for meat shopping, but still! Our mainstay has become the ole chicken breast, but we’ll splurge every so often for some mutton (which is sometimes lamb and sometimes goat) and beef (which is really water buffalo). I try to talk the rest of the family into seafood as well, but there are few takers in that regard.

One of the craziest things is that the plain pepperoni pizza – nothing fancy at all – is usually the most expensive item on the menu at pizza places (Domino’s and Pizza Hut included, in addition to the home-grown stores). Oh, and as far as the non-veg McDonald’s menu? Still no beef there, no matter what you’re willing to pay: you’ll have to settle for chicken, as in the Chicken Maharaja Mac!!

Chicken Lollipops!

Chicken lollipops!One of my new favoritest foods here is lollipop chicken (or chicken lollipops, depending on which particular menu you are using). They’re just like a chicken wing, except that they have the bone with just a big blob of meat at the end. None of that pesky double boned wing stuff to get in the way of the goods! They are usually made without too much spice in them – you get that from dipping them in a sauce – so they are pretty safe for anyone.

Of course the name itself is great. I love the way these names get affixed to foods. Obviously someone thought it looked like candy on a stick, and that’s all she wrote. (Another interesting one was when we were eating in Aurangabad and tried Kentucky chicken, which was nothing more than fried chicken.)

Our vegetarian friends are not as excited with the name, however, and you can imagine how disappointed Alea and Breck were when we ordered dinner last night, I told them we were having lollipops for dinner, and then they found out the truth!!

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving in IndiaPumpkin muffins, apples, corn, peas, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, peppers, corn on the cob, jello, apple crisp, stuffing, casserole, and … tandoori chicken. Welcome to India.

We celebrated on Saturday, since we had a full school day on Thursday and went to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park on Friday for our day off. Mom and dad spent part of the morning doing a little shopping for Christmas presents and decorations, so we are doing a good job of integrating our holidays!

We all ate too much – the kids on veggies, mom on apple crisp, and dad on sweet potatoes – and then got our energy out by playing the Terminator game (this is a Breck invention, although he has never seen the movie. One person shoots a nerf dart at the other two, and if you get hit then you are the shooter).

The evening ended with a little Skype conversation with family in Minnesota, which brought a good holiday to a fun end. As Yoda would say, “Lots to be thankful for we have.”

Pictures from our day at the park are here…