Sweet Food from the Heart of Java

Chapter 5, Part 5 Indonesia, a vast country which looks rather small on Mercator maps, is a nation comprising somewhere between 13,000 to 17,000 islands, where hundreds of ethnic groups speak different languages and practice their own customs. When it comes to food, each region […]

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Here Come the Europeans

Chapter 5, Part 4 Long after being considered merely as medicine, in the 15th century the Europeans’ perception toward spices began to shift as they were used more in local cuisines. Spices added an exotic taste to the continent’s traditional dishes, and demand from royal […]

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Influences from Bharat

Chapter 5, Part 3 At a heritage house in Kumarakom on the bank of Vembanad Lake, a part of Kerala’s iconic backwaters, I discovered one of the biggest surprises during the Spice Odyssey. On the day James and I arrived, we were served several dishes […]

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The Chinese Connection

Chapter 5, Part 2 Known as the “Middle Kingdom” in Mandarin, China has always projected its image as the center of the world even long before the modern People’s Republic of China was formed. Prior to the creation of the Communist state as well as […]

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Bounty from the Earth and Sea

Chapter 5, Part 1 Long before the modern state of Indonesia was conceived, before the arrival of Europeans to Asia, even long before the magnificent Borobudur and Prambanan temples were constructed, merchants in this sprawling archipelago had already established a thriving spice trade among neighboring islands, as […]

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Toraja: Where Life Revolves around Death

Chapter 4, Part 27 In the highlands of Sulawesi, far from the coastal communities of the Bugis and Makassarese peoples, live an agricultural society who still hold onto their ancient traditions. Called “To Riaja”, People of the Mountain, by their seafaring counterparts, the Torajan people […]

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Batak: From Cannibalism to Christianity

Chapter 4, Part 26 By the 19th century, the coastal regions of northern Sumatra were strongholds of Muslim sultanates, from Aceh – where the first Islamic kingdom in the Indonesian archipelago was established – to Deli which is now part of the city of Medan. […]

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Kolkata and the British Raj

Chapter 4, Part 25 “As soon as I stepped out of the hotel, beggars swarmed around me,” my aunt recalled. “You think the buses in Indonesia are full, you should see the ones in Kolkata!” my cousin added. They were in India’s third largest city […]

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Reviving Colombo’s Cosmopolitan Flair

Chapter 4, Part 24 We are in a small two-story restaurant right at the heart of a constantly busy district where our Australian-run homestay is located. Inside, the Italian owner is busy behind the counter while a local staff member attends the cashier. Others dash from […]

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Rejuvenated in Kandy

Chapter 4, Part 23 On the day we left the southwest Sri Lankan port of Galle for Kandy, I was still recuperating from a persistent cough. It was a result of the fast boat journey we took from the Bandas to Ambon, then the flights from […]

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Yangon, Three Years Later

Chapter 4, Part 21 Everything seems so familiar as I step out of the plane that takes me from Bangkok to Yangon. The clean and airy modern airport terminal looks just how I remember it, and the squiggly Burmese script is as mysterious as it […]

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