Here Thar Be Monsters!

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26.2.11

Thank God It's Jum'at!

Sehelai catatan bagi Indonesian readers:
Maafkan kami selama-lamanya memakai bahasa Inggris. Kami tahu bahwa banyak orang Indonesia membaca situs web ini dan kami sangat berterima kasih bagi anda datang di sini. Di masa mendatang, kami akan mencoba menulis beberapa artikel di bahasa Indonesia bagi anda, termasuk tinjauan 'Laskar Pelangi.' Kami sedang mencoba memperoleh uang dengan tulisan kami oleh sebab itu kami berharap anda mengerti. Kami mencintai Indonesia dan cinta yang tinggal di sini. Jangan tersinggung jika kami memakai bahasa Inggris begitu banyak. Terima kasih untuk visitng dan kami berharap anda akan menulis kepada kami dengan komentar anda.

So, with that said, let's start the friggin' weekend, shall we?

Here on the Far Side, we worry a lot about the state of the world during the week, but danged if we ain't gonna cut loose a little on the weekend.  After all, a boy's gotta play once in a while.

Our mother is a real dog fan.  We can't stand the animals, but there you go.  We're cat people around here.  We think dog is delicious and spicy and we'd eat it again if someone would bring a plate over to the house.

Anyway, Mom says that if you don't take dogs out once in a while, they get stupid.  We think that pretty much sums them up, in any case, but she's the expert.

Anyway, we just love living here and Indonesia is a really cool place to live (metaphorically, since it's alway summer here), and we love our wife sooooo much!  But, damn if we don't need to get out once in a while and mingle with our fellow countrymen, even if they're Canadian.  It's hard to find Texans, or even Americans, around here.  We're up to our blessed assurance in Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, and Frogs (go figure...guess they don't like France as much as we do).  We've even found a few Germans and Cubans (!) lying around.  Guess we'll have to settle for Kanuks when the going gets tough.

Living overseas is a richly rewarding experience.  You meet a truly diverse group of folks, every day is a learning experience, and you get to eat things that PETA would be all up in your stuff about back home.  Sure, there are the occasional SNAFUs and jam-ups.  Nothing is perfect.  We even miss winter sometimes.  Well, really we miss those fall northers that clean everything out and let you throw open the doors and windows and get some fresh air in.

When we think about home, we think about manicured lawns and no one hanging out in da hood.  Everything is sanitary and the only thing missing is the paper band around life saying, "Sanitized for your protection."  If you don't get out and see how the other half lives, you tend to forget that there are other ways of looking at problems and alternative solutions to things.

By the way, the next time you're out grilling up a couple of slabs of beef on a Saturday night, try this: use coconut shell for the fuel.  It makes a really tasty flavor that is hard to characterize, and it is a nice break from hickory and mesquite.  A good Indonesian sate has bite-sized pieces of meat on a bamboo skewer, which are grilled on a hibachi with a guy fanning the coconut flames with a kipas, which is a woven fan made of palm leaves.  After grilling, dunk them into sweet soy sauce mixed with crushed red onions, chili peppers and garlic (goat and beef), or a spicy peanut sauce (chicken).

Damn if it ain't some good eatin'.  One secret to good sate is to put one piece of fat among the delectable morsels of flesh.

One thing we have introduced to Indonesians is a decent Texas taco.  Oh, sure, they have kebab, which is more or less like a burrito with Mediterranean spices, but the locals really love our down-home tacos with a good Texas sambal sauce.  The only thing missing is a decent corn tortilla, but we're working on that one.  Next we are introducing beer-battered onion rings.  Should be a major hit.

One thing we can rightfully complain about is, enough with the rice.  We are up to our eye-balls in rice.  The rice is killing us.  NO MORE RICE!

Don't get us wrong.  We grew up in Houston, which back in the day, was a major rice producer.  Now the paddy out Katy way are covered with middle class McMansions that flood everytime you flush the toilet.  Serves 'em right for building a house in a field that was designed to flood.

But having rice every damn meal, and not just a helping, but a HUGE damn bowl full, is just too much.  Our body isn't designed for that kind of starch assault.  Being of Irish decent, we like a good spud or two, but can't we use ANY OTHER GRAINS?

Traditionally, Indonesian food, and really most southeast Asian food, is supposed to be eaten with the hands.  Other than sticks, they really didn't have utensils until the European colonization period.  So, instead, you use the sticky rice to make a scoop on your index and middle fingers.  Then you gather up some of the goodies and suck the whole thing into your salivating mouth.  Try it the next time you go out to a Thai or Vietnamese restaurant.  I'm sure the staff will enjoy showing you.

It's actually kind of amusing to watch upper-middle class folks sit on the floor with a dozen bowls of food in the center and each with a bowl of sticky rice.  They didn't have tables here until the Portaguese showed up, which is why the Indonesian word for table is meja, same as the Portugese.  And does anyone really know how to spell portigeuse?

One highly offensive food we have found here is called jengkol.  It looks like a lima bean on steroids.  It's the size of a cat's kidney and not only smells offensive when it's being cooked, but like asperagus, it 'seasons' one's urine and breath for a day or two afterwards.  We try to avoid it whenever possible.

How we got on to this food thing is a good question.  Our guess is that we're hungry, though it's 3am local time.  But we are enjoying a fine Panther Stout, which is put out by the Bali Hai brewery.  They make one of three dominant lagers in the country, the others being Bintang and Anker.  To our tastes, the Bali Hai lager is the best, with Anker a close second.  Most folks buy the Bintang because it's cheap and because the locals like to mix it with anggur orang tua, or 'parental grapes.'

Therein lies a story.  Anggur orang tua is a wine made from red flame grapes and aged about 10 minutes.  It's seasoned with clove and other spices, which gives it a mediciny taste.  It is usually served over ice mixed one-to-one with beer.  The concoction is not unpleasant, but it leaves a nice headache in its wake.

Other local 'medicines' include arak, which is a liquor made from oranges, and the high-end versions are pretty close to Gran Marinier. 

One of the more unusual brews is called cap tikus, or mouse piss.  It is distilled from coconut milk and the real, traditional version has a fetal deer in it, not unlike the mescal worm.  The liquor and the creature are steeped together for two weeks, leaving the cap tikus a pink color (normally clear to cloudy white).  Supposedly, it imbues the liquor with the 'essense' of the deer.  Variations include other critters, with bat being the most common.

One other concoction of note is darah kobra, or cobra blood.  It begins with a mystery brew containing fruit and flowers, with a reddish tint.  You then behead the cobra and immediately drain the blood into a hi-ball glass with the mystery fluid (that looks something like transmission fluid).  The snake is then gutted and the spleen squeezed into the mix.  A quick stir, and viola!

It's quite good, actually, and goes really well with the sate kobra you are about to eat.  The snake you just drank is diced and skewered, grilled and dunked in spicy peanet sauce.  We highly recommend it!

So, enough of all that.  It's Friday for some of our readers, and already Saturday morning here.  Time to get things together for the weekend.  It's payday and the fridge is full of delicious food and beer.  No time like the present to dive in!

Happy weekend, and may all your meals include rice!

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