Bali - May 2013 travel blog


PAON COOKING CLASS

Our best day yet in Bali. This morning we arranged to take a cooking class in Ubud at the home of Puspa and Wayan (family name unknown). A cab picked us up at the hotel and took us into Ubud, about 1.5 hours away. We arrived at the local market in Ubud where we had a tour with a guide and about 12 others who were taking the class (from Australian, France, Belgium, Nepal, and the US). After seeing the stalls first hand and buying saffron at a remarkable price of 2.5 US dollars, we headed to the family's rice field where they taught us about harvesting rice. What I learned:

1) the balinese eat rice at every meal. Despite that they main industry of Bali is agriculture, they still import a large portion of their rice because the population eats so much of it on a daily basis.

2) rice fields are passed down from generation to generation (patrilineal - daughters can not inherit family land unless it is "new" to the family and purchased by their father. It can not be part of a grandfathers will, for example)

3) rice is planted in rows moving backwards, harvested walking forwards

4) rice is harvested 3 times per year

5) irrigation is shared among farmers in the area from as may as 100 families to about 8, depending on the irrigation lines

After viewing the rice fields, we went to see Puspa and Wayan's home. They served us iced tea as we learned about Balinese architecture and homes

Wayan explained to us that Balinese homes are mostly constructed the same way based on cardinal directions. Each home is a compound of buildings within a walled courtyard. To the North is the "kings room" where the eldest of the family sleep. This room also serves as the "honeymoon room" when family members get married. The couple lives in the room for 24 hours prior to the wedding to "make sure nothing happens to them" rather than after the ceremony. Buried at the base of the Kings room are the placentas from babies born in the family - girls on one side, boys on the other. This is so no matter where you go as you grow up, you always have a tie to your home and think of your home and your family every day. I thought that was a very lovely sentiment.

To the northwest is the temple (elevated above the other areas of the home) where daily offerings are made. Every Hindu home in Bali has a temple, even the poorest homes. to the south is the meeting area for family members and ceremonies. To the east, the kitchen which is outdoors. Multigenerational families live under one roof in Bali, and additional rooms for sleeping exist for other family members throughout the compound. We found it fascinating that in Bali, if you do not have a child, you adopt a family member to carry on your family compound and heritage. Wayan, for example, was adopted by his uncle when he was 19 and moved in with them. He inherited their home and their rice field.

COOKING

Auntie Puspa, who spoke of herself in the third person, was our cooking teacher. in Bali, women do most of the cooking at home. She was so friendly and her English was amazing. Both Wayan and Puspa were also quite funny ("When my husband asked me to marry him, i said no. But then, he got MBA. Do you know a Bali MBA? not a degree, it is Married By Accident. I got pregnant. And in Bali, that means you have to get married." She also called everyone honeybunny).

We made a Balinese feast. We chopped and cooked and mashed for the better part of the day, leaving with printed copies of recipes of each item. Everything was delish and Dave even ate the crispy tempeh we made.

We then hightailed it back to Nusa Dua to change (we had of course sweat through all our clothes) and head to the grand opening of the Le Meridien.

LE MERIDIEN OPENING

Dave, as an Ambassador with Starwood, was invited to the Grand Opening of the Le Meridien in Jimbaran. The hotel has been open actually for several months. We arrived to a red carpet and champagne, which was lovely. Definitely not as enjoyable from there, however. I have never experienced the eating frenzy that occurred at this fancy event. Despite having around 10 different food stations, ALL of them had no food and stacks of dirty dishes at them. We literally could not get food anywhere and the amount of pushing and shoving and cutting was certainly an experience. We settled for additional cocktails instead, but soon the air was so heavy we began to sweat through our clothes for the second time today. Ready to pass out, I had to ask to leave. Dave and I found our hotel host at that point to say hello and thank them for the invitation. The woman, Diwak, was incredibly lovely and seemed so happy that we came. She kept asking us to stay and to come back another time to stay at the resort. We ended up talking to her for about 15 minutes (in front of a large fan) before accepting a bottle of champagne and heading back to the St. Regis.

We of course enjoyed our champagne on our porch and plunge pool, while ordering room service since we were starving. I recommend the parpardelle with duck in Bali also :) Our outdoor space at the St. Regis has been a real treat and one that we were able to enjoy daily. The plunge pool has been perfect after the gym and just sitting around outside in the quiet (despite the mosquitos).



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