Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lobong Culinary Experience – Ubud, Part 1 a walk through the local market.

Our day began with a driver picking us up at our resort in Ubud and being driven for 25 minutes to the Kedewatan district local markets, on arriving here we were introduced to our host for the day Sang Made and fellow travellers Tanja and Ed, whom we would share this experience with.
Made was standing near a market stall that he explained was their equivalent of fast food store, laid out on a table was a whole pig, locals would take up a place at the table and be served a plate full of rice and pork, though the pig looked delicious, it appeared a little heavy for breakfast to me!
After a quick run-down on what we would do for the day, we crossed the busy road into the market place, stopping briefly at a food cart serving out Basko (meatball soup) another Indonesian delicacy.
Made chatted with the locals while me made our way to the entrance, once there we made our first stop, Made holding up a green leafy plant that grows wild alongside the rice paddies, explained this would be one of the ingredients for a delicious salad we would enjoy later in the day.
Then reaching down into a bucket, he produced a string of eels, they were only about 15 inches long and had been threaded onto what looked like a piece of bamboo, apparently the locals wade through the rice fields late at night to capture them, they use them in their cooking in a similar way we use anchovies.
Already we had an insight of just how interesting this day would be, Made explained the foods, where they came from, how they were used in cooking or for ceremonial purposes, we were all captured by his charisma and engrossed in the information being presented.

As we stood there listening, one of the locals walked into the middle of us all to offer us some chewing tobacco, he had very few teeth himself and took great joy in showing us how to chew the tobacco into a ball and to stick it under the tongue.  We were all laughing as he endeavoured to have us try his wares, he was a real character, leaving him there we proceeded down a steep drive into the markets proper, ahead of us was a very muddy road, lined either side by stalls selling a variety of foods, fruits, flowers and all the essentials for making the daily offerings.

There were some interesting aromas as we passed by and stopped at various stalls, hearing how rice cakes were made for ceremonial purposes, touching, tasting and smelling the different herbs and spices.  Shallots, chillies, garlic and dried whitebait all mixed in together, different kinds of ginger, galangal and turmeric, exotic fruits and nuts.

As we continued through the ground floor, a woman was tossing a tray of corn sifting out the husks, working in the smallest of places, next thing we were side stepping around people carrying huge loads on their heads, one in particular, a woman was visibly shaking at the knees at the weight of the load she carried, the old guy she was working with was shirtless and barefooted, had a perfect six pack.
Every nook and cranny was utilised to store their wares, like many markets, the same stuff appeared over and over again, then a stall quite unique would pop up and we would stop to hear about the particular wares on offer.

Coming out the other side we were again outdoors and walking in boggy mud through to a paved area, where woman sat plucking flowers petals into huge baskets, these flowers are used in the offerings, alongside the baskets of flowers were snake beans and various fruits, it was sunny while we were there, I could only imagine how miserable it may be when the rain comes down.

Our next stop was at another fast food stall, this one had liver sausages, pickled pork, some kind of chicken and more sausages, as well as kang kung greens and rice, none of which look very appetising to me, the smell and the oiliness of the liver sausage was enough to put me off, though we were offered to try some, we all declined the offer.

As we headed indoors again we stopped at a fruit stall and tried various fruits, snake skin fruit was very interesting, and while we stood there locals pushed their way in to get on with their shopping.  Made explained betel nuts and their significance in the daily offerings, along with limestone and the leaves of the betel nut tree, which make up the red, white and black components required in each offering.  Older generations of the Balinese rub these bright red betel nuts against the gums, they become addicted to them and after many years of rubbing and chewing the nuts, their teeth turn a dark crimson red to black, and it really is not a good look!

Up a flight of stairs to the next floor, we found a woman cleaning chickens chopping off the heads and feet with a machete, the chickens lay on the table whilst she worked.  On this floor and the next were more of the same stalls, but also there were stalls selling apples and oranges, something we did not see on the lower levels, continuing on down the stairs there was a lady on the landing between floors, sitting among baskets of various fish, I asked if I could take her picture and she gave me a huge smile, the photo is one of my favourites from the day.
As we exited the market we stopped at a shop selling gold jewellery, the fellow there would not look at us, he sat with a stern look on his face, I noticed a jewellers work bench and asked if he made the jewellery, he continued to stare past me as Made explained that they made repairs only, I took a photo of his bench for my brothers sake.

With that our walk through these interesting markets came to an end, we were given a cold drink and a cool damp cloth to freshen up a bit before our ride back to the Lobong Villas, where on arrival we would enjoy a Bali Kopi and banana fritters for morning tea with Made before starting our cooking lesson.

Continue at this link Lobong Culinary Experience part 2 Morning Tea

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