Saat July—Moments of July (Part II): Bakso and the local media (Has President Obama been Redeemed?)
Instead of updating my blog with frequent posts about “I did this today/I did that today” and ending up with a thousand entries by the time things are done, I’m going to instead try to distill each month into one post full of tidbits from my journal, e-mail correspondences, or memory. I think that this format will (1) be easier to parse through for you, (2) give me a chance to reflect on things before I share them publically, and (3) still provide a comprehensive idea of what my daily life is like in Indonesia.
That being said, I am not prepared to write a Saat July (Moments of July) that encompasses all of my daily habits or important notes. There are three topics I still want to share with you: (1) The Anniversary and purpose of Peace Corps, (2) a short and funny story about local food and media, and (3) a funny story about my failures to explain where exactly I’m from.
Plainly translated, bakso is the Indonesian word for “meatball.” In preparation, however, it means something much more specific than the variety of ethnic ways in which meatballs can be seasoned and served in the United States. Bakso has a unique chewy flavor, and I am not too fond of it;* most of the other Volunteer aren’t either. In fact, the ID-4** Voluntter generated Peace Corps Indonesia Family Cookbook*** states, “we can all agree that we don’t appreciate [Barack Obama’s] public endorsement of bakso,” in disapproval of the President’s comments to the Indonesian media during his Jakarta visit last year. I hesitate here to correct myself. I should say … “with the President’s alleged comments to the Indonesian media….”
The possibility of a false report occurred to me last week when I read a multi page spread written about myself and two other Volunteers in the local section of the Jawa Pos. I had been interviewed several days before by a friendly graduate of the school I teach at, so I was stunned to read, “Dia suka bakso,” in reference to me. “He likes bakso” was written right there for everyone to think! I don’t know where the reporter got this misinformation because I clearly remember stating that my favorite foods were pecel and gado gado and that I did not like bakso. So perhaps Mr. Obama is innocent. I’ll at least give him the benefit of the doubt and take comfort in the possibility of a journalistic error.
* To those of you who know me as a vegetarian in the United States, I should explain that I have not pursued such dietary restrictions stringently here. I limit my intake of meat but I’ve also been willing to try everything. I often find out after the fact that a lot of the foods I eat contain animal products though not meat explicitly.
** ID-4 refers to the fourth group of Volunteers to serve in Indonesia. There were three groups here in the sixties. The program did not last long and was disbanded making PC absent in Indonesia for decades until Volunteers finally returned last year in 2010. That 2010 class is referred to as ID-4, not ID-1 as it sometimes seems they are. Accordingly, I am a part of ID-5 though the second group to serve in Indonesia recently.
*** An ID-5 cook book is in the works!