Authentic Balinese Cuisine: From Ceremonial Food to Daily Consumption

The most popular being lawar, saté, and babi guling. Lawar is made of [Photo]minced meat, vegetables, finely cut crackling, mixed with a lot of spices and uncooked-blood as a binding sauce. Saté or satay is grilled chopped meat that can be beef, pork, or chicken. Babi guling is a spit-roasted suckling pig. In the past, these foods were only made for religious rituals, celebrations, or festivals. Their social consumption was the extension of these celebrations. Thus, celebrations like Galungan and Kuningan, that fall every six months, became fiercely awaited by the Balinese, as a good reason to consume their delicious authentic cuisines.

There were other reasons why the Balinese rarely consumed their authentic food in the past. The first being that the preparation of Balinese food is laborious. Making satay, lawar, and suckling pig involved dozens of men in an activity called mébat, another form of the social Indonesian gotong royong or working together. Held in a spacious room such as a community hall (banjar), mébat was usually led by one or two skillful men in food making and preparation. Mébat actually marks the beginning of celebrations.

Not all the men involved in mébat know the complete food making process. Some of them may only be able to cut onions, chilies or chop meat. Others may only spear meat onto satay sticks or shred coconuts. They come to help as part of their communal social obligations. Apart from being laborious, Balinese food preparation is also time consuming. Usually, the spicy ingredients are prepared the night before, as so many things have to be done during actual mébat time, which should be finished by early morning in time for the ceremony.

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