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#42867 - 01 Feb 07 02:43 Pembantu OR Chef?
riccardo Offline
Pujangga

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
This is an issue that has long annoyed me in Indonesia. So many of my male expat acquaintances, who have local wives/partners, complain that their girl can't, or indeed refuses, to cook. Of course the common retort is usually, "I'm not your pembantu (servant)!" Some of these gals are shocked to learn that my wife , and I, love cooking and they totally don't understand -- often asking "why not hire a cook?" The answer is, because we like cooking... which then thoroughly confuses them.... So I was glad to see Julia talking about this:

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What's cooking in the kitchen... and bedroom?

Julia Suryakusuma, Bandung

A few months back when I was in Melbourne, I invited an old Jakarta activist friend to dinner. When she arrived, Lina walked into a very domestic scene: Mimi, Sami and Nina, my three stepdaughters, sitting in front of the fireplace, doing various things -- homework, drawing, reading -- while I was cooking in the adjoining kitchen.

Lina remarked on how pleasant and warm the atmosphere was: The fire burning, the smell of herbed roast chicken, and how obviously close the girls were to me. But she also expressed surprise at seeing me being so domestic, and, the fact that I was cooking! "Why?", I asked. "What's so strange about me cooking?" "Well, you're a political activist and intellectual. Somehow I don't associate cooking with that!"

I laughed, "You're in for a surprise. I'm a good cook!" When she ate dinner, she had to admit I wasn't lying.

I was amused by Lina's surprise, but it wasn't the first time people have reacted that way. In Indonesia, being an intellectual, political activist and feminist is seen as being incompatible with being a housewife, cook and domesticity in general -- all of which pertain to me.

I've in fact been interested in various aspects of food since I was a teenager. Food is a basic human need, and related to so many other aspects of human life: Cultural, social, economic, anthropological and political. On a personal level, preparing food for others is an act of friendship and love, and a great social skill. For many, it's also a survival skill.

And then there's food and my favorite subject -- that's right, folks: sex. What happens in the kitchen has a lot to do with what happens in the bedroom. In ancient Egypt, for example, lettuce was considered an aphrodisiac. Lettuce? Well, have you ever seen what rabbits do after they've eaten it? It's no coincidence that Hugh Heffner chose the bunny as the Playboy symbol! Lettuce seems to work for me too, although many Westerners say it's oysters, caviar, champagne or chocolates that get their mojo working, while the West Javanese have traditionally preferred goldfish (no, really), bean sprouts, aubergine and a certain species of banana.

Abstaining from certain foods is also prescribed to enhance sexual pleasure. Women are advised not to eat cucumber and pineapple, as it causes them to be too "wet". In the West, it's precisely lubrication that's sought. Cultural difference?

But food isn't just about friends, family and rumpy-pumpy. It can be a matter of life and death. In 1997, a radical change to my diet helped heal me -- and probably saved my life. Diagnosed with breast cancer, I opted for natural healing, with a five-month raw food diet to detoxify. Ten months later, I was given a clean bill of health and am still clear today. It's not surprising that I have stuck to that diet since, and today eat 80 percent raw food. And I'm not the only one. By following my eating habits Tim, my husband, lost 15 kilos in three months. Not only is he much healthier now, but he looks better too (phew!).

Unfortunately, however, most Indonesians don't really care what they eat, how it got on their plate or what it does to them. Indonesian cuisine has now become famous worldwide and you can find satay -- usually in bastardized form -- almost anywhere an airplane will take you these days. But while the world is experimenting with Asian foods, Indonesia's favorite treat is fast food.

A few days ago I took my two new maids to the local mall to treat them to any meal they wanted, as a small "thank you" for all their hard work keeping my house clean amid the turmoil of my renovations. From the myriad of cuisines available there, they made a beeline for.... guess what? KFC! Yep, greasy fried chicken, insipid rice, tired chips -- and to wash all this gunk down, a glass of Pepsi, the great imperial American drink, strong enough to clean toilets!

I suppose I should not have been surprised that they wanted foreign "food". After all, many ingredients basic to Indonesian cuisine are not native. Chili, tomatoes and potatoes for example, came from the Americas, introduced when the West arrived looking for cloves. There's no record exactly when that happened, but let's just say there was no sambal in Majapahit!

But chili, fruit and veggies are one thing: Death on a plate is another. It's become customary for kids to celebrate birthdays in a fast food joint, taking home gifts of colored candy and cellophane wrapped nibbles packed with preservatives, salt, sugar and fat. If raw food saved me, what will all that junk do to the kids? Ask the American who went on a strict fast food diet and filmed himself ballooning out until he had supersized himself almost into the grave. That stuff can't be good for anyone except Colonel Sanders and Ronald McDonald.

Then of course there was Indonesia's own home-grown formaldehyde/borax scare where bakso (meatballs), tofu, dried fish and sometimes even fresh chicken were preserved using substances normally reserved for preserving fleshy remains in labs. This was in all the newspapers, which put consumers at bay for a while, but not for long. And now there's the bird flu scare, which is affecting not just Indonesia, but the whole world. Indonesians have been formally banned from keeping backyard chickens, in the fear that tomorrow's dinner may kill them. Do you think that will stop them from giving up their beloved pets, which one day may end up in the frying pan? Not a chance.

So, forget education reforms, the anti-KKN campaign or new investment laws. What Indonesia needs is a radical change in diet. Yes, folks, you guessed it: It's time for a lettuce-led recovery.

The writer is the author of Sex, Power and Nation. She can be reached at jsuryakusuma@mac.com and jskusuma@dnet.net.id.
_________________________
Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.

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#42868 - 01 Feb 07 02:50 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: riccardo]
Macan Tutul Offline
Pujangga Muda

Registered: 02 Dec 05
Posts: 1502
Loc: Jungle and cage ;)
Really nice article ..... but for me myself if I get marry I don't mind to cook for my family cos I like it.
_________________________
" Don't be shy with yourself, you have lots of talent without you notice....that's human, just be who you are."

(Memoirs of 3/3/2007)

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#42869 - 01 Feb 07 02:55 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: riccardo]
chewwyUK Offline
Pujangga

Registered: 14 Sep 06
Posts: 2392
Loc: Jakarta
While I dont cook every night I do love to cook .... Nothing better than preparing a good meal for friends / family.

Currently my Kitchen is too small to do anything well but my new apartment has a bigger kitchen. First on the Menu will be Roast Beef, Yorkshire pudding, Roast Spuds, Carrots, Peas and maybe a few mini pork sausages wrapped in bacon -- all washed down with some fine red wine

Of course while I love to cook I am soooooo pleased in Indonesia I can leave the washing up for somebody else!!
_________________________
Edited by Piss Salon
Edit Reason: taste

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#42870 - 01 Feb 07 02:59 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: chewwyUK]
Dilli Offline
Pujangga Besar

Registered: 26 Feb 06
Posts: 8044
Loc: Nearest Bar
After that lot you'll need the effin gym!
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Menace to Sobriety


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#42872 - 01 Feb 07 03:06 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: Dilli]
chewwyUK Offline
Pujangga

Registered: 14 Sep 06
Posts: 2392
Loc: Jakarta
Hey rhubarb crumble to follow Dilli ---- actually on that note does anybody know where I can find Rhubarb in Indonesia? It must be here as Koi restaurant has it on their menu.

Also parsnips?? any clues??
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Edited by Piss Salon
Edit Reason: taste

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#42875 - 01 Feb 07 03:26 parsnip [Re: chewwyUK]
chewwyUK Offline
Pujangga

Registered: 14 Sep 06
Posts: 2392
Loc: Jakarta
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Edited by Piss Salon
Edit Reason: taste

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#42880 - 01 Feb 07 03:44 Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: chewwyUK]
riccardo Offline
Pujangga

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
Quoting: chewwyUK
While I dont cook every night I do love to cook .... Nothing better than preparing a good meal for friends / family.

Of course while I love to cook I am soooooo pleased in Indonesia I can leave the washing up for somebody else!!


Same goes for us. We usually have catered food, take-away or go out to eat, but a couple times a week we stay in and make our own after a trip to Ranch Market. Yesterday I/we made a super spicy Cajun-style Chili Beans dish, served with rice, along with a fresh garden salad with avocados and homemade vinaigrette, as well as several cans of Heineken. Our Pembantu is regularly shocked by what we eat, but has never taken us up on offers to have a taste, but she does clean up our mess well enough.

We even make homemade baby food instead of buying all that Gerber's shite.
_________________________
Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.

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#42881 - 01 Feb 07 03:51 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: riccardo]
riccardo Offline
Pujangga

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
BTW Chewwy, great looking parsnips you have there.
_________________________
Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.

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#42884 - 01 Feb 07 04:27 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: riccardo]
naga Offline
Member++

Registered: 18 Jan 07
Posts: 260
Loc: undisclosed location
god i lv JS's articles, she's the only local commentator that's articulate, with real sense & perspective....
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"Keep on rockin' in the free world"

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#42893 - 01 Feb 07 05:49 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: chewwyUK]
Orang Kanada Offline
Member*

Registered: 30 Sep 06
Posts: 621
Loc: Jakarta
Quoting: chewwyUK
While I dont cook every night I do love to cook .... Nothing better than preparing a good meal for friends / family.

Currently my Kitchen is too small to do anything well but my new apartment has a bigger kitchen. First on the Menu will be Roast Beef, Yorkshire pudding, Roast Spuds, Carrots, Peas and maybe a few mini pork sausages wrapped in bacon -- all washed down with some fine red wine

Of course while I love to cook I am soooooo pleased in Indonesia I can leave the washing up for somebody else!!


Geezzz.... I'm hungry now! Happy?
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Spiderpig, spiderpig...

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#42931 - 01 Feb 07 09:12 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: riccardo]
dolphin Offline
Member+++

Registered: 07 Jan 07
Posts: 337
Loc: auckland, nz
Hi RIccardo, i love cooking for my family and friends but not everyday i cook. Sometime my husband cooked for me wink I'm so happy if they like my foods, eat and finish it smile And BT if they didn't frown
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simply and naturals

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#42952 - 01 Feb 07 12:03 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: dolphin]
Roy's Hair Offline
Pujangga Besar

Registered: 08 Nov 06
Posts: 3974
Loc: jakarta
I've heard this Indo. belief before about cucumbers (cucuNbers?) making women all lubed up. Why this is something to be avoided beats me.
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Chinese like more traditional patterns on their ring.

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#42956 - 01 Feb 07 12:27 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: naga]
KuKuKaChu Moderator Offline
Pooh Bah

Registered: 09 Oct 05
Posts: 10790
Loc: Centre of the Universe
Quoting: naga
god i lv JS's articles, she's the only local commentator that's articulate, with real sense & perspective....

didn't we once invite her to blog on JakChat?

she turned us down. obviously a girl with impeccable taste.
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KuKuKaChu: dangerously too sophisticated

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#42957 - 01 Feb 07 12:50 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: dolphin]
Shesca Offline
Member*

Registered: 12 Aug 06
Posts: 852
Loc: Jakarta
Interesting article regarding the cultural differences and their effect towards the culinary behavior and preferences. It's very interesting to see how people's perception towards certain social level and their relations to their daily activities. While in the west people are getting tired of fast food and actually are willing to pay more for food provided by restaurants which make them to feel like home (for the ambience and the mama's cook taste), us who are from a third world country actually are seeing consuming weternized fast food to be cool. Pretty sad, because we are actually leaving our healthier diet for those that are actually bad for us. (Ok, minus the indonesian "junk food" such as baso, mie, etc smile )

I personally think that food is actually a way of people expressing themselves. And therefore personal touch on them is very valuable and something to be appreciated. And I actually see those who can cook (boiling water is NOT included smile ) as having a plus point rather than the other way around. Especially GUYS who can cook well smile smile smile
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If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing.

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#42970 - 01 Feb 07 15:18 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: KuKuKaChu]
Orang Kanada Offline
Member*

Registered: 30 Sep 06
Posts: 621
Loc: Jakarta
Quoting: KuKuKaChu
Quoting: naga
god i lv JS's articles, she's the only local commentator that's articulate, with real sense & perspective....

didn't we once invite her to blog on JakChat?

she turned us down. obviously a girl with impeccable taste.


Good for you! So you're still the only dangerously too sophisticated here... wink
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Spiderpig, spiderpig...

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#42971 - 01 Feb 07 15:23 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: Orang Kanada]
Orang Kanada Offline
Member*

Registered: 30 Sep 06
Posts: 621
Loc: Jakarta
From Shesca: "I personally think that food is actually a way of people expressing themselves. And therefore personal touch on them is very valuable and something to be appreciated."

I totaly agree! I know it is cliché to say "my Mom's the best", but she do a meat pie out of this world. She give the recipe to anyone who ask it, and they're never able to do it as good. It's her magic touch, I think.
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Spiderpig, spiderpig...

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#43089 - 02 Feb 07 05:52 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: Orang Kanada]
Piss Salon Offline
Pujangga Besar

Registered: 27 Jun 06
Posts: 4039
Loc: Jakpus
"Diagnosed with breast cancer, I opted for natural healing, with a five-month raw food diet to detoxify. Ten months later, I was given a clean bill of health and am still clear today."

Stop the presses, cure the patent offices: raw food cures fucking cancer!

Bollox.

However, I do agree with Julia re the appalling quality of Indonesian food, from the ingredients themselves to the final oily product. It doesn't have to be like this, as my fiance demonstrates on an almost nightly basis. Indonesian cuisine can be varied, delicious and bimoli free.
_________________________
place within us love that truly gives, tenderness that truly unites, self-offering that tells the truth and does not deceive, forgiveness that truly receives, loving physical union that welcomes

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#43093 - 02 Feb 07 06:36 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: Piss Salon]
riccardo Offline
Pujangga

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
Quoting: Piss Salon

However, I do agree with Julia re the appalling quality of Indonesian food, from the ingredients themselves to the final oily product. It doesn't have to be like this, as my fiance demonstrates on an almost nightly basis. Indonesian cuisine can be varied, delicious and bimoli free.


Not to get too off-topic here, but PISS, I had no idea you were engaged to man??!!! Have you told your fiancee about this? Is she cool with it? Is there going to be a menage-a-trois wedding or separate weddings for each? Which one is a better cook?
_________________________
Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.

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#43095 - 02 Feb 07 06:45 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: riccardo]
Macan Tutul Offline
Pujangga Muda

Registered: 02 Dec 05
Posts: 1502
Loc: Jungle and cage ;)
LOL Riccardo, can't wait for wedding invitation smile


Edited by Macan Tutul (02 Feb 07 07:18)
_________________________
" Don't be shy with yourself, you have lots of talent without you notice....that's human, just be who you are."

(Memoirs of 3/3/2007)

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#43096 - 02 Feb 07 06:53 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: Piss Salon]
Patung Offline
Member++

Registered: 11 Mar 06
Posts: 234
Loc: Indonesia
Quote:
"Diagnosed with breast cancer, I opted for natural healing, with a five-month raw food diet to detoxify. Ten months later, I was given a clean bill of health and am still clear today."


The Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc fallacy.

Quote:
This logical error is committed when someone reasons that something is the cause of something else merely because the former is earlier in time.
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http://www.indonesiamatters.com/

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#43101 - 02 Feb 07 07:05 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: Patung]
riccardo Offline
Pujangga

Registered: 12 Oct 05
Posts: 2195
Loc: Jakarta
Quoting: patung
The Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc fallacy.


I had that before and it got really infected, but after a steady two-month diet of Big Macs and chocolate chip ice cream and JD Whiskey, I was cured.
_________________________
Just here proffering my pearls to swine, my throat to wolves and my trousers to the flagpole.

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#43120 - 02 Feb 07 14:13 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: Roy's Hair]
Piss Salon Offline
Pujangga Besar

Registered: 27 Jun 06
Posts: 4039
Loc: Jakpus
Quoting: Roy's hair
I've heard this Indo. belief before about cucumbers (cucuNbers?) making women all lubed up. Why this is something to be avoided beats me.


My FIANCEE doesn't need to indulge in cucumbers (eating them anyway), a glimpse of my boyish good looks is normally enough to the begin the natural lube process. By the time she gets to my washboard abs, it's the bloody Niagara Falls. Pass me another barrel Chewwie, this one's full.
_________________________
place within us love that truly gives, tenderness that truly unites, self-offering that tells the truth and does not deceive, forgiveness that truly receives, loving physical union that welcomes

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#43123 - 02 Feb 07 15:02 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: Piss Salon]
Capt. Mainwaring Offline
Pujangga Besar

Registered: 16 Aug 06
Posts: 3225
Loc: here
Quoting: Piss Salon
Quoting: Roy's hair
I've heard this Indo. belief before about cucumbers (cucuNbers?) making women all lubed up. Why this is something to be avoided beats me.


My FIANCEE doesn't need to indulge in cucumbers (eating them anyway), a glimpse of my boyish good looks is normally enough to the begin the natural lube process. By the time she gets to my washboard abs, it's the bloody Niagara Falls. Pass me another barrel Chewwie, this one's full.


You make sure the poor thing doesn't trip over her white stick and land on her guide dog . Unless of course you were refering to the lube applied to the handrail and stairway to enable her to have a quick gettaway ?
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I also made a vegetarian version,with tempe and tofu chunks for myself and others.Get over it.
Kosong.Wolo.Setunggal.Setunggal.Setunggal.Kosong.Pitu.Setunggal.Kosong.Wolo=Tempik

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#43200 - 03 Feb 07 09:05 Re: Pembantu OR Chef? [Re: riccardo]
Jokie Jokie Girl Offline
Pujangga

Registered: 07 Nov 05
Posts: 2552
Loc: Central Jakarta
I just read the artcle and it's an interesting!

I'm a women, and one day I'm gonna be a wife wink
I don't know too much how to cook but I love cooking...
and I need a small kitchen in my house.. smile
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"I am the Island girl, born with the humble life, eat on the floor with the right hand"

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