Survival of the fittest

Or survival of the most quickly adapted.

So a couple of nights ago I went for dinner with one of the tutors and her friends, and she brought me to a place BeBerQeran (sp?). This place is very versatile. There is a mosque in the restaurant, so while Di and I ordered a minuman, drink, her friends went to pray before dinner. There is also a sink, for hand-washing, because there are no utensils! Fortunately, her friends had ordered before us, so I got to subtly watch her friends eating with their hands, so I don’t make a fool of myself (which I do everyday, by the way). So the trick, as I was able to perceive, is that you take some rice, then take some chili sauce after you have squeezed lime in it, and mix the chili and rice together to make a sort of small ball. And then you scoop that ball up with your index and middle fingers, and then use your thumb to roll it off the tips of your fingers into your mouth.  Then, for the meat, it’s cooked well enough, so it can be picked off the bone fairly easily with your fingers (and yes, I am now ‘flex-atarian’, after being vegetarian for 6 years, which is another story). One last thing: all of this is done with only your RIGHT hand, because you use your LEFT hand in the washroom (also, a whole other story).

Good thing I had observed this technique, because when my meal arrived, I was intently watched by 7 ladies on how I liked my first bite of rice with chili. They did warn me that it would be pedas, spicy hot, and man, is it ever hot! I’m sitting in the restaurant, not even wearing a headscarf (but still, pants and long sleeve shirt in 30 C), and I’m sweating like crazy, and I barely ate half of the chili sauce. Meanwhile, others are barely sweating and they scoop up the chili sauce like it’s ice cream toppings! SPICY HOT! They love it.

So after adapting to eating with my hands, Di and I went back to her place, and I was so exhausted; my fourth day in Yogya, going to class in the morning, listening to bahasa Indonesia for 2 hours at dinner and catching words here and there… So I went to prepare to sleep. I washed my hands again, to take out my contacts, the way I usually do, poking my right index finger and thumb in my eye and it BURNED LIKE MAD. What the heck?!? Then, I realized…I just used the same hand as the one that I had scooped up SPICY HOT sliced up fresh chilis an hour before. Then, I had to get my contact out of my left eye. I tried for awhile with my left hand, but it just wasn’t working, so I decided to get it out with my right hand, but just do it really quickly. Oh my goodness, my eye was watering for 10 minutes it burned so much. (Amanda, you know what I’m talking about, girl.)

So survival. Don’t use the same hand that you pick up chili sauce to take out contacts. But don’t use the same hand you use to go to the washroom. Wear glasses.  I wore glasses the next day.

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7 comments on “Survival of the fittest

  1. Cheryl Fox says:

    Facinating Jozina! I can’t wait to read more!! What are you doing out there?

  2. Alice says:

    Way to go with the food adaptation! That sounds like the way they ate where I was in India and it took me WAY longer to learn. I got my whole hand dirty to the wrist a few times trying to mix daal and rice.

    What sort of class are you taking? Bahasa? There’s a guy from Java in the department I work for and his accent is sooo cool sounding.

    Can’t wait to read more of your blog!

    • madzina says:

      Hi Alice! Yeah, I’m taking bahasa indonesia classes. After the Lebaran holiday, I hope to sit in a Javanese class too. The classes are Mon-Fri mornings, so I’m glad I have the afternoons to explore and also to do some linguistic work. ;)

  3. Sasha says:

    So it’s alright go around with uncovered head?

  4. Amanda says:

    Hi Jozina~
    So glad you are doing a blog! And so glad you arrived safely- how was the hotel in Japan?….better than a drawer in a wall I am hoping???
    Have a wonderful time learning a new culture- sounds like you are on your spicy way!
    love- Aunt Amanda

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