I love the food in Bali, it is so wonderfully flavorful, so many ingredients go in to preparing the food, and it is an amazingly laborious process. I remember when I first arrived, I was taught how to make the infamous peanut sauce, using a pestle and mortar. It was really hard work! I don’t think I had even seen a pestle and mortar before, let alone used one!
So, the food is great, but every meal revolves around one key ingredient…rice. I like rice, don’t get me wrong, but for every meal? Even breakfast? Nope, I just cannot do that! When I first started living here, there really was not much choice of western food, and I used to dream of the food back home. Over the years, more and more western restaurants and delis have sprung up, and just about everything I once craved is available, with the exception of Marmite, I guess that will never make its way here!
Growing up in England, I was fed a pretty simple English diet. My mother was not a great cook, or rather, I was a very picky eater, so she would probably blame me for the fact that she did not experiment more. She had a few recipes that she did well, and she made great homemade pizza and quiche that were melt in your mouth delicious.
My fondest memory though is of the food served at my birthday parties growing up. Like most English people, my family likes tradition, so every year we would have the same dish, and I never grew tired of it! It was not fancy in any way, but I loved it. It consisted of chicken drumsticks, cooked to perfection, with a lightly crispy outer coating, created with a seasoned batter. These were served with oven baked chips, that are so much better than greasy fried ones. They were crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside.
I can still picture our kitchen, with the long wooden table down the center, decorated with a festive tablecloth, and covered with party snacks, twiglets, sausage rolls, cheese and pineapple chunks served on toothpicks and other party favorites. The smell of the chicken and chips cooking in the oven permeated the air throughout the house.
My father would always set a treasure hunt, that took us from room to room, following cryptic clues. I always cheated, but I still loved the tradition of it all. As we searched the house for the clues, the smells of the chicken juices made our mouths water. The hungrier we got, the more frantic we became to find the treasure. Once discovered, we barely cared about the treasure anymore, all we wanted to do was rush to the kitchen to devour the food!
Hmm, I am making myself hungry just thinking about it! Perhaps I will ask my mother to recreate this dish for us when we visit this summer. (hear that mum??)