Earlier this week my counterpart and I were walking around the school planning next week’s scavenger hunt for practicing prepositions. We were walking past the library when our noses led us astray. We ended up in the laboratory… where some students were busy concocting desserts for a biology assignment. JACKPOT! Lunch time was noticeably gaining on our subconscious’s, “Miss Elle… hehehe, right place, right time!” my counterpart blurted out with the biggest grin, and I couldn’t have agreed more. As calls of “Misssss! Missssss!” sprang from different corners of the room, tempting us to try their delectable experiments, we indubitably complied. Before causing further damage to our daily caloric intakes, we excused ourselves after dabbling in a few bites here and there, satiating low blood sugar levels. Shortly after excusing ourselves from the lab, the students reappeared in the teacher’s room with more treats for us to sample, this time asking for numerical markings to earn credit for the day. Obviously I couldn’t deny them the judgement of my experienced taste-buds, so naturally I ate some more. I rarely eat sweets at site unless it’s a famous cookie that starts and ends with an O, in which case it admittedly isn’t that rare, but by the end of the day, I was happy [and kenyang (full)] and ready to take a tidur siang (afternoon nap).
Fast forward a couple of days… Saturday’s lessons were put on hold to observe Hari Mulud–celebrating the birth of the great prophet Muhammad. Luckily my morning class wasn’t canceled before a day of contests/competitions (which featured a modern-Muslim themed fashion show, a calligraphy poster design contest, and singing dangdut), orchestrated by OSIS (student government) ensued. My [obvious] favorite though was the lomba rias tumpeng contest… and I was quite thrilled when I was asked to be a juror along with the biology teacher.
I was led to our library which despite the signs on the wall of “no eating, no drinking”, was transformed into the perfect setting for a food competition– ::cue thunderous reality TV intro:: WE’VE TRAVELED FROM THE FOOD CAPITALS OF AMERICA, NEW YORK CITY, MIAMI, AUSTIN, CHICAGO, NOW WE TAKE YOU ON A SPECIAL JOURNEY TO VISIT A RURAL VILLAGE IN EAST JAVA INDONESIA WHERE A BRAVE PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER ‘GIVES MOTIVATION’ WHEN SHE’S NOT BUSY JALAN-JALAN‘ING AND COMBATTING MALARIA-SPREADING MOSQUITOES. THIS IS… TOP CHEF: DAWARBLANDONG! …THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE WINNER…
NOTE: I never actually watched Top Chef back in the States. In fact watching the show deeply annoys me, it’s a perfect example of how excessive and snobby our culture can be when there’s more dire problems worth investing time into.
Each class was judged on their ability to create the most delicious, neatest, and most intricately decorated lomba rias tumpeng, a variation of cone-sculpted mountain of yellow coconut rice, surrounded by heaps of dried tempeh and fried peanuts, shredded coconut, berkedel or a little mashed potato-like nugget, fried/hard-boiled eggs, veggies, as well as a decorated chicken covered in fried garlic and an assortment of spices (head still in place).
Pak Z and I had fifteen pieces to sample, and by the fourth piece, it was obvious that my servings needed to be Barbie-sized bites to sustain my appetite the whole way through. It didn’t help that an hour prior to learning I was going to judge a food competition, that when I had rushed home to change my clothes, I had shoved three big pieces of fried tofu down my throat.
Word of the Day (which we came to use often): Homba (flavorless)