LITTLE BROWN NOTEBOOK
What is it about the notebook that excites their delusion?
I have no clue.
It is a perfectly normal thing.....
The first page has the opening invocation for shadow-plays, recited while the audience comes together and the gamelan players stroke the starting rhythms, the last page has, of course, the closing invocation (exvocation?), which returns the numinous-powers to their proper places and reseals the boundaries.
[Indonesian shadow-plays are in many ways exorcistic and ritualistic reframings of the mundane world, and it seems appropriate to begin and end the notebook in that fashion. Even though I replace the notebook when it fills up, I prepare the new notebook with the same opening and closing texts before adding aught else.]
For the rest, the notebook is fairly simple and entirely unsurprising. From front to back, vocabulary notes for Tamarao (an Indonesian regional language), entries in capitals, explanation in cursive. From back to front, phone numbers, addresses, key recipes, miscellaneous notes and inventory lists for my pipe-tobacco stockpile. I gradually add material to both the front and the back entries - After several months the blank pages in between narrow down to only a few unwritten leaves near the middle, whereupon I prepare a new notebook to take its place.
A sampling from the current notebook:
TUNGKAWAN = Fortified multi-level agricultural storehouse.
TUMPAK, TUMPAROK = Stylized lightening bolt motif used in jewelry.
SAHUI = Ritual guest group or secondary ethnicity whose societal presence serves as guarantor or fair witness.
DJAMBO-DWIPA = The Rose-Apple (djambu) Island (dwipa); Sanskritic term for the Eurasian landmass. Note that djambo also means tuft or tassel (djambo-tumendjok = decorative turban tuft).
SAMPI = Volunteer. Self-sacrificiant. Not to be confused with 'sampe'.
SAMPAHI, SAMPAI, SAMPE = Until. Upon meeting. Next.
As you can tell, it is not alphabetic. Entries grow as I remember words, or something reminds me of a locution. It is a record of recollected word-glitterings.
The recipes near the back are far less haphazarded.
Here are two, which by themselves neatly nearly define the Dutch East Indies taste.
[Toasted coconut shred condiment]
One cup shredded coconut.
Half cup cashews.
Half teaspoon each: ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, sugar, salt.
Quarter teaspoon each: cinnamon powder, dry ginger.
Pinch: mace, cayenne.
Half tablespoon each: Louisiana hot sauce, lime juice.
Dash of hot water.
Whisk all flavourings till sugar and salt dissolve. Toss everything together to coat, let stand for an hour. Toast, spread out on a tray, for one and a half to two hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. It will be brown and crispy at this point. Can be kept in a jar with a screw-top lid for up to four or five weeks - but you will have eaten it before then.
This is used as a textural side-dish, adding crunch to curries and stews. It can also be eaten plain, or strewn over rice. Unlike the standard version, which you are probably used to, it contains no fish-paste, and no huge amount of palm-sugar (Javanese like much more sweetness than is strictly normal).
I have substituted cashews for peanuts - some people are allergic to peanuts.
Half cup each: sugar (white, or white and dark mixed), Kikkoman soy sauce.
Two tablespoons each: sherry, dark vinegar.
One teaspoon salt.
One whole star anise, one or two slices of ginger, and a clove or two.
Put everything except the vinegar and half of the soy sauce into a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, till the sugar is fully dissolved and the liquid syrupy and starting to foam. Stir in the remaining soy sauce and in a minute or so turn off the heat. Let it cool and strain it into a bottle. Use the dark vinegar to swish the remaining syrup coating the inside of the saucepan, and add to the bottle.
This is as close to typical Dutch and Indonesian sweet soy sauce as you can get, and far better than most brands. Plus you know exactly what is in it.
We use it in any number of dishes, but it is also good drizzled over roasted meats such as saté or little grilled lamb chops. Try it on your fried eggs.
These two preparations, along with at least one jar of chili-paste, can be found in countless Dutch kitchens world-wide. Their uses are legion.
Sarundeng (Dutch spelling: seroendeng) is based on the root 'unde', which applies to substances with a coconut meat base or a strong coconut taste. Such as undé undé - a sweet sticky shreddy compound used to fill sweet dumplings or little crepes. The praefix sa/sa(r/l/g) indicates that the substance is entirely identified with the meaning of the root word, the 'ng' ending makes it an independent noun.
Ketjap is the same word as ketchup. But not the same substance. In both Hokkien and Cantonese 'keh-tshap' (茄汁) indicates a tomato juice preparation or compound. Keh is short for 'fan keh' (蕃茄 - Barbarian eggplant, hence tomato), tshap (汁 - chup, tseap) means juice or expressed liquid. By pulping and condensing tomatoes with some vinegar (醋 - tchew) and salt (鹽 - yin) one achieved a flavour -additive that kept on sea voyages and was pretty good with fish. In Malaya, the settled Chinese eventually replaced the vinegar with soy sauce (a natural development, given that there were already so many sour flavourings commonly used locally), and ended up omitting the tomatoes altogether. Ketjap at that point simply meant a flavoured compound sauce (such as mushroom flavoured soy sauce, shellfish flavoured soy sauce, gingered soy sauce, etc.) similar to 'condensed sauce' (滷 汁 - lutjap; rice wine, spices, and soy sauce, simmered down), and eventually came to mean soy sauce itself - the basis of flavoured cooking sauces. The postfix 'manis' means sweet. Regular unsweetened soy sauce is ketjap asin - salty soy sauce.