Indonesia Expat - - FOOD AND DRINK -

“Nasi goreng? Fried rice? Se­ri­ously, c’mon! What a lazy In­done­sian culi­nary cliché!” I hear the im­pe­ri­ous In­done­siaphiles bleat with su­per­cil­ious dis­dain. Yes, fried rice is pop­u­lar; stop be­ing so smug. The qual­ity of this ubiq­ui­tous dish varies from place to place. It might be de­li­cious at your lo­cal warung (food stall), or un­ap­peal­ingly bland at a rail­way can­teen. It typ­i­cally con­tains a small hand­ful of diced veg­eta­bles and shrimps or bits of chicken or mys­tery meat. The grandly named

nasi goreng spe­sial has a fried egg plonked on top. In­trepid eaters might want to opt for the ful­lon nasi goreng gila (crazy fried rice), which has every in­gre­di­ent at the caterer’s dis­posal thrown in, es­pe­cially chilli pep­pers. If your plate of nasi goreng isn’t served with at least one prawn cracker, you’ve been ripped off. Send it back. My own in­tro­duc­tion to nasi goreng had un­pleas­ant con­se­quences. I had been in In­done­sia for just two weeks – my di­ges­tive sys­tem un­ac­cus­tomed to the trop­ics – when I bought some from a pass­ing street cart. I was sick for three days. For months af­ter­wards, the smell of nasi goreng was trau­matic. For­tu­nately, I can eat it again these days. I wouldn’t want to still be turn­ing my nose up at the coun­try’s un­of­fi­cial na­tional dish.

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