Yesterday we were picked up at 7am from our villa for a day of market-visiting, rice paddy walking, vegetable picking and cooking lessons. Man. I am so glad we booked this tour.
Jero picked us up and drove us two hours out of Canggu – to Klungkung (where this amazing market is) and then on to Sidemen. I just found out today that there is a huge textile market at Klungkung (which also sounds amazing) – but we were on a cooking-type-schedule yesterday so we visited the Klungkung fresh food market instead. I can safely say that a) this is NOT a tourist area, it’s far from the madding crowd and home to traditional Balinese village life and b) we were the only white people in the market.
I think it’s pretty easy to have a lovely-yet-generic-Westernised experience in Bali – so I was really glad we got to do something more authentic and put some money into this mountain village economy (albeit only $150-ish dollars, but still…)
Jero showed us all kinds of interesting things at the market – soap nuts (to use when washing your hands) and beans. Lots of different chilis and roots (Lesser Galangal was new to me!) Beans and sweets and some pretty bracing (unrefrigerated) meats and poultry. Heaps of different leaves and vegetables and spices. Baskets and flowers and incense for offerings. Outside there were stalls selling satay and nasi campur and cold drinks. We whipped around pretty quickly – three levels in around 15 minutes – taking lot of photos and trying to stop our eyes bugging out from the size and smell of it all.
Then we jumped back in the car and headed up into the hills to Jero’s family home. He gave us a quick tour – we met the family chickens and a nephew and a grandmother (perhaps!) Then we donned hats and headed into the rice paddies to pick vegetables and get laughed at by the villagers. It was pretty great. It was also pretty hot. And pretty muddy. I am really proud that I didn’t fall over even once. (Rin was with me for this whole adventure, with equally bugging out eyes. Rin also got to have a knife, but Jero didn’t seem to want to give me a knife. Probably a good call because I was a bit over excited at this point.)
Once we’d picked eggplant and chilis and snake beans and bean leaves and fresh basil and rosellas (and even more things) we walked through the rice paddies, across the road and up to an outdoor kitchen and dining pavilion where our cooking lesson began.
We pounded and chopped and sliced our way to lunch – with Jero and his sister-in-laws showing us what to do and explaining which ingredients were best, when and why.
We made raw sambal, tomato sambal, pork + jackfruit soup, chicken curry, tempeh with sweet sauce, tuna satay, vegetables with coconut, black rice pudding and…. our own coconut oil and coconut milk. We grated the coconut, extracted the milk and boiled some up to produce the oil. It was so great and totally mind-boggling. SUPER hands on and exhausting and delicious.
We drank ginger tea with coconut sugar and rosella tea made from rosella flowers steeped in boiling water.
There was no electricity – everything cooked over flames and smokey coals. All the pastes were pounded and smashed in natural mortar and pestles made from rocks and bits of wood. Everything was served in coconut plates and cups and bowls (and sometimes laid on pandan leaves for colour/good looks/usefulness.)
Once we’d finished cooking – we made offerings and Jero told us a bit more about offerings, being thankful, demons and gods. And then we ate together and chatted about village life and how things work in the village and Jero’s family.
When it was time to go, we bundled a bunch of recipes and a little bag of presents from Jero’s family into the car and were driven back to our villa (to cool off, have a swim and talk A LOT about what we’d just witnessed and learnt.)
Such an ace day. If you go to Bali, maybe you could do this tour too? Jero says it’s mostly Europeans that learn to cook with his family – pretty much NO Australians ever visit.
How amazing does this all look?!