thankfully not to buy a fat pig. We’d driven along a village road behind a small truck loaded with cylindrical bamboo baskets, about a metre and a half long and half a metre in diameter. Only when we spotted the curly tail and a rather large pink backside prodtruding from one end of a basket did we realise the truck was carrying a couple of pigs in the traditional manner!
Anyway, we’d had an early start on this, our second day in Bali and were driving through the morning traffic, towards KlungKung again, this time accompanied by chef Santika. We drove past small groups of youngsters on their way to school, including these girls carrying their whisk-brooms because they were on cleaning duty this morning. Coc had explained yesterday that schoolchildren take turns to prepare the classrooms ready for the day, to sweep and keep things tidy.
About an hour’s ride later, we arrived and here we were, in just my sort of place! We hadn’t even stepped inside before I’d spotted bamboo baskets, woven and stitched in much the same way as the young woman had demonstrated to me yesterday.
We were here to learn about ingredients however, and chef Santika was soon pointing out items on stalls: palm sugar, shallots, garlic here
and a whole range of roots and shoots like galangal, turmeric, Bali ginger and the ginger we get at home, known here as elephant ginger. Santika stopped each time to break off a piece, to pass it around and invite us to taste, smell and compare. Fascinating!
All the time I was looking around, doing my best to spot things and to look closely at the goings on, watching people and noticing the small things whilst still trying to gather all the information about the chillies, the beansprouts or whatever else was being discussed.
The stallholders were charming and happy to have Santika stop and talk about their produce. We learned about the Bali limes – small, hard little fruit with thousands of seeds inside and a distinctive aroma – we had so much to learn.
We came upon the bamboo department then and Santika held what looked like a hat aloft – except it wasn’t a hat but a steamer, cleverly woven to have a more open base to allow steam through. We did a quick assessment of whether we could get one home…
But my eyes were already on the square baskets and I’m thinking that I’d rather have one of those…
or a colourful bag…
but then look, there’s another little offering down there – and already, my mind has moved on, has been drawn away from the acquisition of things and back to absorbing the visual feast which is all around me.
There are small green woven pouches which are for steaming rice. The pandanus leaves impart flavour to the rice and keep it contained, so the package can be transported easily for lunch or a snack.
We turn a corner and we are outside again, amongst the melee of sellers who don’t have a “proper” stall in the market, doing our best not to get in the way of women doing their shopping, carrying it on their heads in some cases.
We regroup and Santika has something to share – he’s bought some snakefruit for us to try. We’ve never come across this one before, so having admired the beautiful patterns and colours on the skin, we do as instructed and peel it away.
The texture of the fruit inside is slightly crisper but has the similar consistency to that of a chestnut. There are three or four segments, each with a large stone and the flavour is sweetish, slightly astringent but rather refreshing.
We are then told to do something which is clearly against all of our instincts
to throw the peel and stones on the ground and move right along.
Next stop, the cooking school!