"Food, Glorious Food!", as the saying goes. Malaysia, the country where I come from is blessed with such diversity in culture that food varieties come in abundance. Ask any Malaysian - the first thing in any conversation will always begin with a foody connotation like, "Hi, have you eaten?" Malaysians who travel overseas will always be on the look out for the two most popular past time, Shopping and EATING.
As a continuation to my recent post on "Bali Hai", I once travelled on a day trip down to Ubud, a small village in the central of Bali. This village is about a 2 hours drive from Denpasar and is renowned for its arts and crafts. You will find silver crafts, wooden crafts and also bulkier master pieces carved on rocks and stones. Paintings are plentiful too with the many art galleries and museums.
Ubud is like a sleepy hollow - it is slow moving, tranquil and full of temperaments due to the arts. Apart from the arts, tourists travel all the way to feed on a delicacy called 'Babi Guling'. Literally translated as ' Turning Pig', it is a meal that is a must try whenever one is in Bali. It is a delicacy made from a pig similar to the Chinese roasted suckling pig. A whole pig is used for the roasting process. The inside of the pig is removed and is stuffed with spices and herbs. The mix consists of basic ingredients like ginger, garlic, shallots, chillies, lemongrass and much more. Once Porkie is stuffed, it is then roasted over an open fire ignited out of dried coconut husks up to five hours. It is slowly turned (thus the term 'guling') to ensure that Porkie gets an even tan and crisp.
In previous times, this delicacy is served during traditional rituals and religious ceremonies. These days, the 'Babi Guling' is available at all times as it can be found served in many restaurants in Bali. One of the most popular restaurant serving this in Bali is none other than "IBU OKA" in Ubud. This is no fancy restaurant as it is termed as a 'warung' or translated as stall from Bahasa Indonesia. This is also the wrong place to go to if you fancy an air conditioned environment with tables set with table cloths and high back chairs for you to lean on. "Ibu Oka" is an outlet with only wooden tables complemented with wooden benches. Tables come in two sizes - high or low. As you approach the entrance of the stall, the action of poor Porkie being diced, sliced and chopped up can be seen on the left via an 'open kitchen'. There is a flight of wooden steps ahead of you to enter the restaurant while the lower level near the entrance is alfresco with many people scrambling for seats.
There is not much on the menu as it is pretty much Porkie niche. I had the works known as 'Babi Guling Special'. Served with steam rice, vegetables, some inner spare parts like intestines and of course succulent tender Porkie meat. The crispiness of the skin was beyond description. The sweet and slightly spicy sambal was heavenly as accompaniment. To some, this may sound creepy and disgusting (the intestines I mean) but as the saying goes, "One man's meat is another man's poison".
I would suggest that this delicacy be eaten in moderation. I remember not being able to finish the dish completely as it was just too 'rich' with flavour and the oozing of the 'fattiness' from Porkie :p A good complement for sweetness after the entire gastronomic adventure would be an Indonesian Jasmine tea called 'Teh Botol'.
As George Bernard Shaw once quoted, "There is no love sincerer than the love of food"
"SELAMAT MAKAN" or better translated as "Bon Appetit" :)