Saturday, July 16, 2011

Street Food

Treats abound on the streets of Java.  Go anywhere and there is someone selling something good to eat or drink.  Vendors sell from stalls set beside the road, from pushcarts, from baskets slung from cloths across their shoulders onto their hips, from trays poised on their heads, and from wooden boxes suspended from poles they balance on their shoulders.

Walking to the supermarket to buy some shampoo, I pass a man carrying some grilled cakes with the aroma of coconut.  I stop and ask what he is selling.  Kue rangin, he says, a savory snack made from fresh coconut and flour that is cooked in half-moon molds.  Like waffles dense with fresh coconut meat, the salty cakes are served with sugar.  The contrast between the saltiness of the kue and the sweetness of the sugar spark the tongue. 

He tramps the streets balancing the stove on one end of his joist, some finished cakes in a display box on the other end.  There is a rhythm to the walk of these vendors carrying their wares upon their shoulders, an easy, rolling gait.  Like acrobats balanced on a wire, they stride with apparent weightlessness, moving easily among the traffic of motorcycles, bicycles, trucks,  and automobiles.

Lowering his two boxes to the dusty street, the vendor plucks a batch of the kue from the molds, and wraps them in a piece of paper which he sprinkles with sugar before placing the wrapped cakes in a plastic bag and handing them to me.  Lightly greasing the molds, he pours in the next batch of batter, arranges his goods, arises and is on his way.

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