We just have not had much luck at the supermarket lately. There are two big chains in Jakarta where all of the nouveau riche and the not-so-rich expats shop: Hero Pasar Swalayan and Carrefour Hypermarket. We normally go to the Hero in the basement of an old Jakarta mall near our office. (Most of the malls here have a grocery store in the basement.) This Saturday we went tried out the Carrefour in the basement of a mall near our house, Mall Ambassador.
The Carrefour that we checked out was gigantic. It was the closest thing that we have seen to a Target–sort of high class mass consumption items, everything from groceries to bicycles to rice cookers to widescreen TVs. It was like a Costco where you could buy normal sized items. Anyhoo, this place had everything, except for what we needed. A friend of ours turned 30 this Saturday, and we had the idea of making a special Indonesian treat to bring over to his party. We have these very often at catered events: they are like little glutinous rice flour cakes with coconut sauce and sometimes a sweet filling, wrapped and steamed in a banana leaf. Seems pretty straightforward, huh? Well, the Carrefour was out of banana leaves and shaved coconut. Huh? That’s like a store in the United States being out of milk and eggs. You can’t get a meal in a restaurant without both of these ingredients, and almost every recipe in Indonesian language cookbooks marketed for domestic consumption requires one or the other. Totally exasperating.
So that was disappointing. More surprising, when we visited our regular grocery store yesterday, we learned that not only were they out of banana leaves, but they don’t even sell them. I mean, you can get Vegemite and Marmite, but no banana leaves? Maybe people just go outside and grab them off the trees when they need them. And then, we couldn’t find NUTMEG. The whole damn achipelago was colonized for the specific purpose of harvesting nutmeg, and we can’t find any? It’s like America being out of corn.
OK, so we’re being a little fussy, and we shouldn’t get too mad. It’s just that we had a string of rotten luck in shopping lately. Even we have to admit that it’s kind of funny; you have to recognize the humor in a situation like this. At any rate, this is the reason for our deliquence lately in posting recipes. We have several that we want to post: one for little fried tempe, one for rendang daging, one for coconut chicken curry, one for Central Javanese beef soup, and hopefully someday one for little steamed banana leaf packets.