I joined a tour of the local market. Usually, I observe but don’t know what I’m looking at. This time I could find out.
“What is that gelatinous, green goop?” I asked.
“An herbal drink meant to make you strong. It’s got great medicinal properties. Pregnant women drink a cupful every morning during their last trimester to ensure an easy delivery.”
I tasted a bit. It was bland, though the slimy texture was tough to swallow.
“How do they get that food so pink?”
The guide replied, “The pink is from artificial food coloring and much beloved by the Balinese. You should avoid all pink foods.”
We tasted half a dozen Balinese fast foods – sticky rice with cane sugar scooped into a banana leaf cone and eaten as a sweet snack on the run. Sweet corn mixed with coconut, vanilla and cane sugar – a crunchy sweet snack. There were a dozen of us or so on the tour and whenever we’d see something interesting, one of us would buy a bag for a thousand rupiahs – about 11 cents – and share it around. Just enough for a good taste of each.
We stopped at a spice seller’s booth and bought fresh nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and long pepper. At the vegetable stands, there were tiny eggplant the size and shape of a tangerine, snake squash that looked very snake-like, various tubers that are used like potatoes, mango steam, white mangos, rambutans, snake fruit, and dozens more exotic fruits. We also saw imported from Washington state – those are used only for ceremonial occasions.