Gado-gado, or learning how to make Indonesian dishes ///
Ungasan – a small village on the Indonesian island of Bali, not far from the Ulu Watu temple, is best known for the Indonesian cookery courses that take place there. A local family, all smiles, invites you to come in and visit their traditional home with its spatious backyard garden. First, a mandatory lesson in how to prepare offerings for good and evil spirits. We get busy right away with weaving tiny baskets from coconut and banana leaves, into which we place flowers, fruit and rice. Bali Hindus believe that the world is ruled by opposites – good and evil, day and night, gods and demons, and only a balance between them can guarantee the continuity of life and well-being. We place the offering in front of shrines inside the house. The gods have to be appeased first, and only after than has happened can you think of satiating yourself.
The hosts have created a unique school of Indonesian and Bali cuisine in their own home. „Taste of Bali” is an authentic local, ecotourism initiative. In the courtyard, underneath an awning, there is an open-air kitchen – a large table for making the dishes with a row of wok pans alongside it. The smell of spices and fresh vegetables, bought today at the local fair, drifts across the entire garden. – Coriander, ginger, garlic, lemon grass, nutmeg, galangal, cardamon, chili peppers, are only some of the spices which we use in our cuisine – mentions I Gusti Ngurah Gede Suarta, host, chef and the brains behind the culinary workshops in Ungasan. We spend the entire day in pleasant company (including some Canadian tourists) and under the watchful eye of our instructor we manage to cook some nasi goreng, which is rice with vegetables in bumbu sauce, as well as mee goreng – noodles with vegetables, corn soup, chap chay vegetables with chicken, and finally gado-gado – a delightful peanut sauce dressing which goes great with a mix of vegetables. Every dish has to be savored, so we end up being treated to a real feast, which pays off all the hard work. But that’s not all – we still have dessert – fried bananas and sweet potatoes – It’s no easy task to get the 1st level diploma, you really have to demonstrate you’ve earned it – the host’s wife eggs us on, handing us a collection of recipes which are in today’s menu. In the end, I succeed in getting a certificate signed by the instructor and I have something to paste into my taste & smell album. I Gusti Ngurah Gede Suarta presents me with a bag full of Indonesian spices – Take the scent of Bali home with you!
My rucksack and one of the drawers in my kitchen continue to hide these wonderful smells. In fact, I usually get to talking about my trip to Bali whenever I open up this drawer. These memories turn my thoughts to future trips in the rhythm of slow & local food.
Find out more about Bali’s unique cooking experience by visiting: http://www.balicookingschool.com/CONTACT_US.html
tekst & photos: Dominika Zaręba
English translation: Piotr Szmigielski
text: Dominika Zaręba
Fair trade, which seeks to support small producers and local communities especially in developing countries, is become more and more popular around the world. It also is an approach to product sales which is closely tied to the idea of ecotourism and has the support of the ecotourist sector and of ecotourists themselves. The idea of fair trade is based on several premises: fair price for product, fair product, fair work conditions, direct sales (minimizing intermediaries between the producer and the end-buyer), support for the local economy and methods of production that are environmentally friendly.
The best known product sold in line with fair trade rules is coffee. An excellent example of a country benefiting from fair trade is Guatemala, where coffee, tourism and handicrafts are the main source of income for the local indigenous community.
Guatemala is ranked as the world’s 6th largest producer of coffee, with almost 3.5% of all coffee coming from this small Central American country which is only slightly larger than Iceland. Volcanic soil, tropical forests, humidity, relative elevation and temperature vary considerably across the country, with the result that Guatemala is able to produce 7 different types of coffee beans from the Coffea arabica species. One of the most important coffee-producing regions is the area of Lake Atitlán, the magical lake of the Mayas. Here, 95% of the coffee produced (mainly the Bourbon variety) is grown by small, local producers whose plots are on average 12 hectares. The indigenous peoples cultivate this crop with traditional, environmentally friendly methods, without using artificial fertilizer and with the beans being left out in the sun to dry. The small producers have joined forces to set up cooperatives which help promote and sell fair trade coffee products in Guatemala and internationally. Another means of supporting the local economy are ecotourism business initiatives which are developing in the Lake Atitlán region, including the more & more popular Spanish language immersion programs taking place in local schools. Several hour-long lessons take place out in the open, surrounded by tropical nature, with each student being assigned their own teacher. In local cafes, visitors and residents alike can savor the delicate taste of beans from plantations covering nearby volcano hillsides. After 1 week of intensive language courses combined with living with local families, the results speak for themselves. A special place that I would recommend to all those travelling to this corner of Guatemala is the San Pedro Spanish School, which is located in the village of San Pedro, on the shores of Lake Atitlán.
Read more information about the school in the jungle here: http://www.sanpedrospanishschool.org
On the global scale, several organisations are involved in promoting environmentally friendly products, including the Rainforest Alliance, which manages the more and more recognizable Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal, which features a green frog.
text and photos: Dominika Zaręba
English translation: Piotr Szmigielski