INDONESIAN FOOD AND MUSIC:
What's a food posting doing on a music blog again? They connect; but here's a vocabulary list before proceeding, just in case:
Indonesian to English:
krupuk udang = prawn crackers (from Indonesia).
emping belinjo = smashed and fried gnetum or padi oats.
goreng krupuk = fry crackers.
garing = crunchy/crispy.
kwali = a wok (a large Asian frying pan).
si jali-jali = a traditional folk song from Betawi (Batavia/Jakarta), a tropical plant.
gambang kromong = a Betawi Orchestra.
chap goh meh = end of Chinese New Year on 15th day. Chinese Valentine?
It's called finger food today and taken with wine and beer. But emping and krupuk udang have been on the dinner table as part of Indonesian meal appetisers a long time ago. They are also eaten with gado-gado (salad). It's still a delicious diet for many Asians. And they are everywhere during the Chinese New Year festivities.
My own household in the 50s always connected the Indonesian music coming from the Pye radio in the hall with the frying of krupuk udang or emping in the kitchen. Our domestic help was a very plump but short and tanned Indonesian lady who would do her frying with the large wok or kwali filled with ten gallons of oil, accurately heated to a certain temperature. She had to make sure that the krupuk udang would drip out of the kwali light brown, dry and most importantly garing.
I never waited for dinner time and would snatch two or three of these hot and oily krupuk from the shallow flat basket, where she placed them, and run out of the house sinking my teeth into the very tasty and garing prawn crackers as I swallowed them quickly. My mother would hear her screams and shake her head muttering, "He knows he'll get a bad sore throat..."
The krupuk udang those years was very much larger than they are today and I never believed that they should be broken into pieces and placed in jars only to be eaten during meals. I would just take bites from the large pieces that Piah (our domestic help) had fried and enjoy them whole.
Si Jali Jali:
|Modern Jali Jali Dance (griyawisata.com)|
The Jali-jali coming from the radio was a testimony of our helper's love for the music. She was allowed to tune in to Indonesian stations any time she had to goreng krupuk. Piah, jovial and warm, came from Betawi and the crackers she fried and music she listened to were part of the culture brought over from Indonesia.
These songs have become the anthem for the indigenous people of Betawi in general. This particular music is still being practised by art groups today in the Indonesia capital and has helped to preserve the culture.
Apparently, Jali jali was born, developed and popularized by the Chinese peranakan in old Betawi using accompaniment from gambang kromong. It is a traditional orchestra originating from the same city, blending western music and Chinese-style pentatonic base tone. It was popular in the 1930s.
A HAPPY CHAP GOH MEH, EVERYONE!
Images; Google and YouTube.
An original posting.