Food is an essential of life; it provides nourishment, offers comfort, excites the palate, and eating it is a central social activity. The kinds of food we eat, how we prepare them, when and why we eat, the manner in which we consume them – all of these elements provide an interesting glimpse into different cultures and societies. What one country prizes as a gourmet dish may be totally taboo in another. Tastes and methods for cooking vary from place to place. Food may be given as an offering, blessed, and returned to a devotee. For some, food may be considered ritually contaminated once touched. Others may only eat a dish if it is prepared by someone of equal or acceptable social status. People may be vegetarian for religious or humanitarian reasons, or avid meat lovers. Certain cultures prize raw food; others insist on eating something still partially alive. There are simply no universal rules for food.

Asian countries have an amazing array of culinary dishes. Eating in the street, or while standing at a stall, are all commonplace activities. Children (boys and girls) learn to cook at a very young age since this is considered a practical and important skill. Men often do the vegetable and meat shopping while the women (or their servants) prepare the daily meals. Fresh and in-season foods are always preferred, although frozen microwavable dishes are making headway in larger cities.

At Utpalasia we love to sample and taste the local cuisine when traveling. We usually return home with a ton of stories and some really fantastic recipes. Don’t worry – we are ready to share all our favorites. All you need is is a healthy appetite and an adventurous palate!

Indonesia: Bali