David Barratt and I. Wayan Budiasa present a collection of over 30 authentic recipes straight from the kaki lima (market street trollies) and warung (small native restaurants) found on the Indonesian island of Bali. With tourists in mind, Barratt, who grew up in Tasmania and has been visiting Bali for 30 years, and Budiasa, a Balinese cultural tour guide, explain the ins and outs of “the cheapest and …most interesting way to eat” while visiting the southeast Asian island.
The authors open with autobiographical essays introducing their experiences with Balinese culinary culture. An overview of daily fare and food practices follows, and recipes are interspersed with cultural commentary on colorful street cuisine. Vibrant photographs of eateries, prepared dishes, and Balinese landscapes appear throughout.
Bali’s fertile land provides a wide variety of foodstuffs, although meat is expensive, pork used almost exclusively for festivals, and beef not favored. BBQ fish is a new culinary option offered by recent immigrant Muslim street vendors in coastal villages. Rice dishes dominate the recipe collection with specific varieties required for savory and sweet dishes. Also included are classic Indonesian dishes such as nasi goreng (fried rice and eggs), satay (meat kebab), and fish wrapped in steamed banana leaves. Recipes also include various chili-based sambal and peanut sauces as well as desserts.
Unfortunately, the book’s organization hampers its usefulness. The text isn’t divided into chapters, and recipes appear haphazardly without grouping by key ingredient, dish types, or course. Recipe titles are mostly untranslated, so it’s hard to know if a page contains a recipe or cultural commentary. (At the book’s end, however, readers will find a useful, annotated list of ingredients and a brief alphabetical index.)
Despite its organizational problems, the book presents a tantalizing tour through an exotic culinary landscape. World travelers as well as fans of southeast Asian cuisine may appreciate this up-close view of traditional street food and the Balinese culture that created it.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.