rembang delicacies #1: ways to eat and die happily

P1060258rembang staple food: the most tasty sate srepeh

exploring local delicacies in rembang means in the future you would have to come for more. it took me another eight months after my first bite on their nasi tahu campur (rice tofu mix in sweet spicy peanut sauce) and my longing on savoring sate srepeh (thinly slice chicken satay in spicy sauce of garlic + red onions + chilies + coconut milk). ah, the pain of longing.

i arrived at night time in rembang, due to some technical issues my travel car was two hours late. and added to all spices, hunger is the best kind. with pop and yoesam, we went to a night time warung in the market place, called rumah makan behek. they just open, so anything they have is in their warmest delight. they have the warm rice, some lodeh (soupy vegs), the best fried tempe (originally wrap with teak leaves), black ink squid satay and oh dear, one pot of boiling sate srepeh sauce! i might just die in happiness before i even took my first bite.

P1060251life saver in rembang night time: rumah makan behek

and i died that night in a happy stomach.

then woke up at 7.30 AM the next morning, pop was waking me up. “you want to catch the famous srepeh warung for breakfast?”. in a mere addiction which i recalled of my eating habit while i was in rembang last time, of course i said yes and rise.

P1060254the famous bu slamet warung, go before 8 AM before all run out

we were not late this time. the satay is still available. i had my biggest grin and touch heaven back and forth, when eating the sate srepeh with the nasi tahu campur. i know i can eat this food for life kinda thing.

P1060256nasi tahu campur on teak leaves

P1060260the perfect combination

i think it’s time i try to make my own recipes, because blogging this already making me having a bad craving. there are some food i haven’t manage to take picture of. some of them are lontong tuyuhan and the kelo mrico, you could check my friend’s labodalih post on them here.

a lot of rembang delicacies are based on how they process intestines, which really means you really have to master the spices. it’s a nostalgic feeling when you are having the bite of the local food. the sense of a busy ancient port lost in time. here are some of their variants:

IMG01995-20120403-1411local rujak style, with fish intestines sauce

P1060386the liver of a stingray cooked in sweet soya sauce

P1060611vintage sign of pak brengos

P1060609rawon pak brengos, the rembang style: light in color and use the cow intestines

530097_10150719435744637_1240525196_nthe sate laler: goat satay (and fats) for a late night dining

obviously after this culinary trip i need some detox on my system. but parts of me, or well my stomach happiness was left in rembang somehow. so how is your ways to die happily by food?

rembang: why the world need to guard their springs

P1060304lustful water of semen

don’t you just want to jump into the water?

i’m back to yogyakarta after another visit to my favorite part of the northern coast of java: rembang and lasem. i found myself complaining for the unbearable heat and the level of humidity of yogyakarta. it is the second consecutive time this year (or the past month), i’m complaining about the weather in the city i’m living. it is hotter then the coast and jakarta! (i can’t even believe i’m saying this).

while the world just seen a huge storm passes new york, us living in the archipelago have been seeing the change in climate where things become unpredictable. even for us living only with two season: the wet season and the dry season, the weather is so confusing. i remember just in september i’m still snuggling in my tibetan blanket at cold summery nights and finding myself clenching my teeth while taking my late motorcycle ride against the cold wind. nowadays i’m surviving daily at my house in the thinnest balinese sarong. the weather is wrong, people. climate change is here and it is no bullshit.

the last navicula borneo tour give me the glimpse of how bad our last rainforest remains. it’s around 25% forest left in borneo. human greed is such a major destruction to this planet. please check paul daley blog for more information on the attempt in maintaining our borneo rainforest.

P1060292the teak forest preservation, sale, rembang

while now, in the remembrance of the hot afternoon in rembang, i reflected to the many spring water that i’ve seen surviving and should maintain that way. i went up to sale, rembang in the forest preservation area where they have a spring called semen. it was to my surprise that the coastal area of rembang hide this beauty from the last time i was there.

P1060293semen spring in sale, rembang

P1060294the other pond of the spring

P1060296

other side of the spring

it is just a spontaneous trip inspired out of rembang afternoon heat. although before i do wanted to see sale, where one of my old friend puthut ea come from and hear all about it in his story from time to time. this spring is where he learn first time to swim. we packed fruits from the local market (finding myself being excited with the local varieties which are getting rare in the big cities). passing teak wood forest and suddenly finding the little forest hideout where a beautiful spring shyly welcome us.

P1060310proudly wearing the lasem batik

i changed myself to a borrowed lasem navy blue batik and took my first dip. it was a quiet afternoon. the local herdsman let his goats roamed around the field nearby the spring. pop put on his italian oldies song with portable speaker. the sensation of swimming in a spring hidden by a little forest took to another level. we spend hours in the spring and not wanting to get out from the cool calm water. i spent time staring at the sky among the trees while laying back on the water and remembering what it’s like to feel being hidden and covered by so many big trees. it is such a peaceful feeling. in a moment like this i often just want to thank to life for each beautiful gift. for each beautiful moment.

in the afternoon the local kids come to swim and some families also take some dip. pop said this feels like family picnic in the late 1980s. the rest of the guys quietly munching on juwet (the javanese grape) and pomegranate. i guess somehow time didn’t move there and in this spring we all voluntarily trap ourselves in its enhancement.

P1060325enchanted forest

i believe every single spring is sacred. people were not allow to cut trees around the spring so as not to dry the source of underground water. for some spring i found the water come under the tree itself. i found in many local tales that a spring is “keramat” (could mean sacred but could mean spooky for some) for many local beliefs. i personally think our ancestor mean for every single of us to show our respect towards nature.

in some ways i feel in indonesia we have plenty of water, often in abundance. but taking this for granted is a wrong move. in our big cities nowadays clean water is scarce. the jakarta river – citarum is the number one most polluted river in the world. rembang case itself, along the way to the spring, i found just across the teak preservation area is one of the many karst mining site ruining the natural landscape of rembang. it could even dry their river and water resources. it is a heartbreaking sight.

P1060340reality bites: preservation versus mining in rembang

i suddenly remember the mystery of easter island story, where they were building up their statue to praise their gods and using lots of wood in putting them straight up on the ground. until they came to the last tree, they decided to cut it and their civilization going downhill to the path of annihilating themselves. we should learns from these kind of stories. that whatever development of civilization human wants themselves going, it would not last without the consciousness by going in line and harmony with their natural surrounding. that the real progress is existing in the human heart to really appreciate what they have and take care of it. i really hope that we would not found ourselves in deciding to cut the last tree standing. we should guard our spring water for the importance and existence of living beings in this planet.

P1060320river nearby the spring and hope it never runs dry

rembang-lasem #1: old antique houses

salah satu rumah antik di rembang

one of the antique chinese house in rembang

i decided to give myself a trip as my 29th birthday present last april. mia, my friend coming from jakarta shared the trip. a single moms getaway journey. we spent three days in rembang-lasem. took an 8 hours trip with travel minivan from yogyakarta. we passed blora also, where the characters of pramoedya ananta toer’s came alive suddenly. picked up by bessy and yoesam, who i haven’t seen for so long and they took us for a tour around the area.

Continue reading “rembang-lasem #1: old antique houses”