Indonesia’s most popular tourist destination, the island of Bali is – according to the visitor blurb – “a tropical paradise on earth, its temples, beaches, waterfalls, rice paddies, and volcanic landscapes making it the perfect traveller’s destination.”
Fair enough, we’re sold. We’re ready to enjoy this exotic destination to the max – revelling in the diverse marine life, twin volcanoes and incredible beaches. Even the less outward-bound visitor will delight in this multifaceted island: there are a host of gorgeous temples and an annual silent festival on Neypi day, when rest, relaxation, total tranquillity and oodles of self-reflection is the norm…
After which, you’ll probably need a shot of caffeine to bring yourself back up to speed – and Bali’s got just the stuff! The island is home to the world’s most expensive coffee, Kopi Luwak, which clocks in at roughly 50 dollars a cup and is made from the droppings of the civet cat.
The food, on the other hand, is relatively inexpensive, with night markets and street stalls serving up tropical deliciousness 24/7. While home cooking tends to rely on simple dishes made daily from fresh market ingredients, Balinese restaurants tend to specialise. Certain eateries may serve only babi guling (suckling pig stuffed with chilli, turmeric, garlic, and ginger), others concentrate on bebek betutu (crispy duck). But the country’s common gastronomic denominator is rice: an absolute staple of the local cuisine – and many a religious ceremony!
Balinese Hinduism reveres Dewi Sri as an important rice goddess, and you’ll often see colourful effigies of the deity made from sticky rice, the main ingredient for their nasi Bali.
A mixed rice dish which contains anything from grilled tuna to fried tofu, cucumber, spinach, beef cubes, vegetable curry, or corn, nasi Bali is an island favourite, often sold wrapped in banana leaves. Bubuh injin is another ricey choice: a sweet dessert made from black rice porridge topped with sugar and coconut milk, a dish that’s a popular breakfast island wide.
It’s not all rice though: local foods include lawar (chopped coconut, garlic, chilli, with pork or chicken meat) and sate lilit (made from spiced mince pressed onto skewers). ‘Tropical paradise on earth’ Bali may be, but we’ll bet a large number of those travellers visit the island just for the fare. Though perhaps not the coffee!