Gamelan – that was the melody of Balinese metallophones and gongs that we heard as we entered the lobby of Flushing Town Hall. When we stepped closer to the food bazaar hall on the second floor, the sound of the traditional instrument become clearer accompanied by the aroma of Southeast Asia spices. Then, we saw a woman performing Balinese dance in a traditional costume, her hands and body moving gracefully in accordance to the Gamelan rhythm. I was fascinated to see the performance as this type of traditional music & dance ensemble are usually seen at wedding ceremonies in Indonesia.
We met up with our Indonesian friends and with their warm and friendly gestures, they introduced us to their friends in the events. Everyone was very friendly and they explained briefly to us what each of the performances on stage were about. Also, there was a singing performance by a duo of gorgeous Indonesian ladies. They were very clever to sing songs from different regions of Indonesia. By doing so, we were able to recognize the special characteristics of the rhythms from each region.
Then we were introduced to various Indonesian authentic local foods that were being sold at the event. There was a lady pounding peanuts on a huge granite mortar with pestle to make salad dressing for the local salad called Gado-Gado. I could literally smell the nutty peanut fragrance by standing near it. Then, the pounded peanut was mixed with palm-sugar, dried prawn paste, chilies, tamarind water, lime juice and water and it was served with boiled vegetables and garnished with prawn crackers.
The West Sumatra region style satays (Stay Padang) were sold like a hot cake (actually more like hot sticks) in this bazaar. Skewed beef on the satay had been marinated in Sumatran spices that gave a woody and slightly sweet and spicy flavor. The signature of the satay from this region is the yellow-sauce which was made from rice flour and ginger, turmeric and coriander to name a few. Another interesting item is a dessert from Surabaya region called food such as Tape Ketan, which is a sweet dessert made of fermented glutinous rice served with shredded coconut. The interesting dish from the same table is called the Gudeg Komplit which we found jack fruits which had been simmered in some spices and coconut milk, served with white rice tofu and fried fermented soybean cakes.
It was an interesting place to discover Indonesian traditional food served far away from its native land in Southeast Asia. It was also a great place to meet and be part of the warm cordial Indonesia community in the United States. All this was made possible by the organizer of the event, The National bank of Indonesia, which sponsors it every year in New York City.
The foods mentioned above are available in most Indonesian restaurants in New York such as:
1. Java Village Elmhurst, Queens.
2. Selamat Pagi, Brooklyn.
3. Bali Nusa Indah, NYC.