DixPix Photographs

     

INDONESIAN ARCHIPELAGO

 
     
  UNUSUAL FOODS  

 

Weird Food?  Well, let's say strange to the palates of most 'westerners'.  Clearly they are all part of the common cuisine for the cultures involved.  For the rest of us they may come in somewhere between revolting and entertaining.

 

Let's start with Fido.  Dog is considered unclean by Muslims, but here in northern Suluwesi Island, most habitants are Christian, so dog meat is considered a delicacy and sold by the kilo. Click to see big picture (640x432 pixels; 113 KB)
Like many animals sold in the meat markets, it is normal to singe off the fur, and remove the guts before presenting dog for sale.  So step up and choose your cut.  On your restaurant menu it will likely be disguised as "rw" in Suluwesi or as "B1" in non-muslim parts of Sumatra. Click to see big picture (640x405 pixels; 80 KB)
Dogs are not the only forbidden animals on sale, those pigs are also off the Muslim menu, although there is apparently an unusual species of wild ones on Suluwesi which are allowed because they are not 'cloven of hoof'. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 134 KB)
One nice thing about having your animals torn apart at the butchers is that you can just point at what you want, no need to know the name.  In fact, no need to know the animal it came from. Click to see big picture (559x480 pixels; 129 KB)
You can make a really good deal for the heads, which seem to be the parts left over when the rest has been sold. Click to see big picture (640x382 pixels; 129 KB)
And while in the markets of Minahasan Suluwesi, why not pick up some finger food in the form of a cooked rat.  At only 40 cents equivalent it's a bargain.  If you don't see it out, ask for it by name-- Kawaok.  Sorry, but this is also off the menu for Muslims; Christians and animists only. Click to see big picture (640x466 pixels; 144 KB)
Or perhaps take home a family-sized stretch-rat.  I am not sure what species this was, perhaps a mongoose. Click to see big picture (640x364 pixels; 99 KB)
Off to Sumatra for a Kentucky-fried sparrow. Click to see big picture (632x480 pixels; 79 KB)
Fruit bats seem at peace roosting at this town near Monado in northern Papua New Guinea, but in northern Suluwesi fried fruit bat may be found on the menu as Keluang.
A favorite at many markets are the micro-fish. Click to see big picture (575x480 pixels; 157 KB)
They come in a variety of species and are usually presented for sale in large mounds.  Typically they are crumbled and sprinkled as a condiment or used in soups. Click to see big picture (640x430 pixels; 141 KB)
Many micro-fish are caught in rice paddies and other swamps as a side-industry to farming. Click to see big picture (584x480 pixels; 96 KB)
From a market in Sabah, this is Red Sugar, known as Gulah Merah.  It is made from the sap of the tall Palmyra Palm (Barassus sp.). redsugar
Durians should likely also be included as a weird food due to their horrendous smell, but in view of their wide popularity they are treated under fruits.  Many hotels will not let them in the door, as this sign portrays. Click to see big picture (640x374 pixels; 77 KB)
The Betel Nut is widely chewed as a slightly addictive and slightly narcotic pastime, although it leaves users with red-stained teeth.  The nut is actually the fruit of the Areca Palm (Areca catechu). Click to see big picture (421x480 pixels; 125 KB)
The nut is usually chewed with Betel Leaf, from a vine Piper Betle, of the Piperaceae family.  Lime powder (as in calcium hydroxide) is also used to extract the potent constituents.  It is the leaf that gives betel its name, and likely much of its potency. Click to see big picture (542x480 pixels; 90 KB)
Chicken feet are not a common site in North American markets, but people likely get their quota in broths and other chicken-flavored, processed foods. Click to see big picture (507x480 pixels; 115 KB)
How about a slice of an ant (termite?) nest.  This is on sale in the markets of Sabah, and I am told is actually to stop bleeding after childbirth. Click to see big picture (437x480 pixels; 101 KB)
In some of the tropical jungles, the staple starch is a slurry washed from the central pith of the Sago Palm.  Protein may come from the Sago Grubs that also feed thereon. Click to see big picture (640x451 pixels; 115 KB)

Pigs are forbidden to Muslims and Cows to Hindus, but the poor water buffalo would be on everyone's menu if it were not so important as a draft animal.  Their meat is widely eaten, however, and tasty.  You will find it on the menu as Kerbau, although more properly addressed as Bubalus bubalis.

Click to see big picture (640x438 pixels; 93 KB)
Sometimes it is better to see you food prepared on a plate than to be introduced in a market. Click to see big picture (640x429 pixels; 107 KB)
Mushrooms are also available at times.  This one has an unsettling resemblance to the Parasol Mushrooms (Lepiota sp.) of North America, which are usually poisonous, but the locals presumably know what they are doing. Click to see big picture (640x386 pixels; 79 KB)

What's for lunch.  You likely don't want to know.  In a widely popular style of restaurant blamed on the city of Padang, Sumatra, available dishes are displayed in the window.  These are not plastic replicas, this is what you will eat.  The flies love the system.

Click to see big picture (640x446 pixels; 92 KB)
Upon seating, the plates are set out in front of you.  You only pay for what you eat, and the rest go back to the flies.  When westerners are around, utensils can usually be found (but no knives, apparently a safety measure left over from colonial days). Click to see big picture (640x433 pixels; 110 KB)
But Indonesians tradionally eat with their fingers.  Don't forget to use your right hand, and don't drink the finger bowl. Click to see big picture (478x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Most Padang dishes seem to be covered in hotly-spiced slimes, likely an attempt to discourage the flies and other agents of decomposition.  One might be tempted to seek out a Chinese restaurant instead, usually there is one about. Click to see big picture (640x370 pixels; 85 KB)
In fact, if your taste buds aren't burned out, there are a wide variety of interesting spices, condiments and coloring agents available in the local markets. Click to see big picture (617x480 pixels; 133 KB)