The Essentials

Aruna and Her Tastebuds by Laksmi Pamuntjak

I just finished a book with pages full of characters exploring different cities in Indonesia for culinary treats and I realized how food can be so beautifully described in all its forms. We definitely need it as means of survival so I’d like to dedicate this post to anything that satisfies our palates and stomachs.. Part of the book involves one character asking the others, what are their top 10 essentials ranging from food, its ingredients, to drinks. What they couldn’t survive days of this Earth without. Now, I love lists and I thought that is such a brilliant idea to share. So here’s mine!

  1. Rice – the basic staple of my everyday diet, my ultimate source of energy for the day, which  also makes any dish complete. Health enthusiasts will tell us that we should stray away from it and I know as much as a lot of us try, you know there’s no escape from it.
  2. Garlic – Famous for its pungent smell, it’s the key to flavoring your meal. However it has also become one of those love-it-or-hate-it type of ingredient. I just love the fragrance it gives as it’s fried with vegetable oil over a pan, stirring my hunger.
  3. Red chilli – Life is just so much more exciting with our feisty little friends. I would always try to fit some spiciness in whatever I eat, in my fried rice, in an aglio olio pasta, and many more.  With a little bit of chilli, our mealtimes become dynamic and we’re not only left with sweaty foreheads when we finish our food but a boost in our metabolism as well ( Are you tempted yet?
  4. Soybean cake (Tempe) – Just like The Beatles vs The Rolling Stones, in Indonesia you can choose to be on different sides of the spectrum, tempe or tahu (tofu). I, my dear friends am religiously a tempe devotee. Whether they’re smothered and sautéed in sweet soy sauce or blanketed in flour, I am all for it.
  5. Mango – For fruits, there is no better balance between sweet and sour than the mango. When it’s a hot day in campus, I would bolt down to the canteen and grab a mango juice to go because of how fresh it is and if I could eat one fruit for the rest of my life, they are strong candidates.
  6. Flour –  A personal favorite of mine, I always love food that are covered and fried with flour. It may seem unhealthy but I’ve been loving it for as long as I can remember, the days of my childhood and it’s always on my menu. You name it, from fried chicken to enoki mushrooms, I’m all for the crunchiness that it delivers.
  7. Egg – When there seems to be nothing much that’s left in the fridge, there’s really no need to fret because the sunny side up egg, fried or scrambled, can keep your stomach filled before heading out to the groceries store.
  8. Noodles – A contender to the rice, noodles may it be Indonesian, Vietnamese or Italian are great fun to eat especially in to
  9. Chicken – My dearest type of meat. It’s light, tender and so versatile.
  10. Milk – It’s something essential when we were infants, and always will be until I grow old, which is why its famous for being a comfort drink. Drinking milk bring about fond memories of childhood, and there will be no end to loving it.

Finally, those are my essentials and thinking about it, it’s such a great conversation starter when you’re having brunch, lunch or dinner with friends which can probably make your eating experience that much more, exciting. Never stop exploring the senses with food, there is just so much to enjoy.