At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Most Indonesians and Americans cannot grasp the concept. Forty or more dishes at one meal? Surely that's horrifically excessive? What IS it with you degenerate cheese-heads?!? Yet the Dutch feast known as a rijsttafel ("rice table") is actually not about excess. It's about moderation and texture. And nowadays, unless you have a whole bunch of people coming over, eight or ten dishes is more than enough.

Rice is essential, so is chilipaste. Gin (genever) or beer are quite optional. Cigars and coffee afterwards are up to you.


Babi ketjap: Pork belly in a soy based sauce.
Rendang: Buffalo chunks seethed in coconut milk with turmeric, galangal, lemon grass, and enough chili to floor a battalion.
Gule ayam: Chicken in a mild coconut curry broth.
Korma kambing: Goat (or lamb) cooked in a rich coconut and candlenut sauce with chilies and ground coriander seed.
Rawon: Meat stewed black with keluak nuts to colour.
Gapok (empal): Spicy seethed meat sliced and slow-fried till crisp.
Tahu goreng: Fried tofu with a tangy-spicy peanutty sauce.
Empek-empek: Fried stuffed fish cakes.
Sayur asem: Sour tamarind vegetable soup.
Perkedel: Spicy potato croquettes.
Ikan tumis: Steamed fish with sliced chili and ginger.
Sambal goreng ikan: Fish stirfried with chili paste.
Sambal goreng buntjis: Haricots vert stirfried with garlic and chili.
Semur: Meat braised in dark sauce with onions.
Ketoprak: Vegetable salad with a spicy dressing.
Opor: Fowl in a rich coconut broth.
Sayor tjampur: Mixed vegetables with curry spices.
Atjar pedes tjampur: Chilis and other vegetables, pickled.
Sayor lodeh: Vegetables cooked pulpy with coconut milk.
Rujak: Unripe fruits with a sour-spicy-savoury dip.
Singgang: Tamarind and seafood flavoured broth.
Krupuk: Shrimp chips.
Emping: Pounded gnemon seed crackers.
Saté: Small barbecue skewers and peanut sauce.
Serundeng: Spicy crunchy toasted coconut shreds.
Kolak ubi: Yam chunks cooked in coconut milk and palm sugar.
Lemperan: Rice batter crepes with a crunchy vegetable filling.
Lumpia: Springrolls, mostly beansprout and shredded carrot.
Onde-onde: Glutinous rice balls with a sweet filling, deepfried.
Asinan timun: Lightly pickled cucumber.

En zo veel nog voorts.

Contrary to popular belief, fried battered bananas ('pisang goreng') are absolutely not an important part of this.

The key is coupling variety with restraint. Do not eat until you pop, but just sample a little bit of this and that. Augment your food with a little hot sauce (sambal), and alternate textures.

Kindly ignore any and all sneering comments from Indonesian nationalists and PC American puritans. Why did you invite either of those silly people anyhow? They don't have anything interesting to say, and they disapprove of everything.

The best Dutch Indonesian restaurants are in the Hague, but many fine establishments can also be found in Amsterdam. Ask local people for a recommendation. Yes, most native Dutch are heavy beer drinkers, but a rijst tafel eatery is usually a table cloth kind of place, so they'll behave.
Can't say as much for the visiting English and Germans.

There are no good places to enjoy a rijst tafel in the San Francisco area.
But there is indeed some excellent Indonesian food to be had.
Different audience, with different tastes.
Few Indos, also few Dutch.
It's not Batavia.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.



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