Traveljunkieindonesia.com – Indonesian cuisine is really one big food swap. Chinese, Portuguese, colonists and traders have all influenced the ingredients that appear at the Indonesian table and the cuisine has been shaped over time by the archipelago’s diverse landscape, people, and culture.
In Indonesia hospitality is highly regarded. If you’re invited to someone’s home for a meal, you’ll be treated warmly and social hiccups will be ignored. Nevertheless, here are some tips to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone:
1. When food or drink is presented, wait until your host invites you to eat.
2. Indonesians rarely eat at the table, preferring to sit on a mat or around the lounge room.
3. Don’t be surprised if, when invited to a home, you’re the only one eating. This is your host’s way of showing you’re special, and you should have choice pickings. But don’t eat huge amounts, as these dishes will feed others later. Fill up on rice and take a spoonful from each other dish.
4. Indonesia isn’t a nation of chopstick users; this is fork and spoon country. Many prefer eating with their hands (if you’re worried about hygiene, remember that only you can be sure where your fingers have been). Only use your right hand (ie for eating, passing things, anything); the left hand is for ‘other duties’.
5. Your host will implore you to eat more than is humanly possible, but the best approach is to eat as much as a restaurant would serve. And – not that you’ll need prompting – be sure to praise the food.
6. In Islamic areas, be sure not to eat and drink in public during Ramadan. Restaurants do stay open, though they usually cover the door so as not to cause offence.
7. Smoking seems to be acceptable everywhere, anytime. But perhaps wait until after a meal before lighting up, unless everyone else is puffing away.
8. Men and women dining together is the norm. An invitation to a meal from (or for) the opposite sex may be considered an ‘expression of interest’, as it is in most countries.
Happy Green Travels!