This November I have been invited to represent Indonesia on a culinary tour across Southeast Asia and Australasia, featuring a team of chefs from Germany. They will be exploring local food culture, making a comparison of the food heritages of Germany with chefs from the region. This will be an enjoyable new episode for me to continue collaborations from the last three years at Frankfurt and also Leipzig book fairs as Indonesian cuisine was on show in Europe.
Goethe continues to be a magnet for bright young Indonesians keen to study German language and seeking study and work experience in Germany. They can study classic and contemporary literature, art and music and much more.. so why not cookery as well?
Food is of course a very effective way to encourage cultural exchange. Visiting Chef Helge Hagemann and I will create our own feature dishes for an exclusive ‘Magic Hour’ dinner on 22nd November 2018 plus some jointly-developed recipes – an exchange of gastronomic knowledge, techniques and flavours.
Taste in common ?
At first sight you might think there are many differences between our two cultures as we are far apart in geography and climate. But that is to overlook the magic of Indonesia’s reputation as the Spice Islands. Spices such as nutmeg have been in demand for centuries, contributing to comfort foods and regional specialities across Germany and the rest of Europe. Nutmeg is still an essential ingredient in German recipes for spinach and creamed potato dishes as well as soups and savouries. Locally grown bay leaves, caraway seeds, chives, and dill have been firm favourites in German food history, but far off tropical spices including ginger, cinnamon and cloves are equally loved for their contribution to cakes and desserts. And let’s not forget, as much as Indonesians love their noodles, there is also a special place for wheat flour and egg noodles or 'Spatzle' at the heart of family meals in Germany. As Italian immigrants popularised pizza in post second world war Germany, the interest in other food cultures has continued via market stalls, street vendors and restaurants managed by Turkish, Greek, Vietnamese, Indian and Chinese communities. I am really looking forward to this event and hope it marks a new chapter for both our cuisines.