Monday, August 16, 2010
Preserving the tradition in foreign land
On my birthday I woke up so early exactly at the same time when the sun rose that day. I felt so fresh and so full of energy I could run in the park longer than I usually do. Then I heard my cell vibrated indicating that someone was texting me. It was from my friend wishing me Happy Birthday. I was so surprise that he woke up so early but it turned out he was on his night shift at work so at that time he was still in the office.
I went downstairs and called one of my maids to accompany me to go to wet market. I never got a chance to go to wet market so early like that day. When I arrived in the market, I was so happy because all the vegetables were still complete and very fresh, and so were the fishes and everything else. Suddenly I saw a big round rattan tray like the ones the Indonesian always uses to make nasi tumpeng. In Indonesia it's called tampah but in the Philippines it is called bilao. So I bought the biggest one. I thought of making nasi tumpeng for my own birthday party. It would be great surprise for everyone because I never tried to make this thing before and no one in the house has ever seen a nasi tumpeng. I have bought the other ingredients a day before. Oh, before I forget, nasi tumpeng is an Indonesian yellow rice (turmeric rice) cone shaped buffet style dish served on round rattan tray. The cone shaped yellow rice is usually surrounded by 7 kinds of side dishes that represent the wealth, dedication, and the glorious time. The side dishes usually are chicken, prawn, perkedel (mashed potato with corned beef fritters), mixed vegetables, eggs, mixed fried peanut and anchovy, and some kinds of tempe (soya bean cake) dish. But there is no tempe in Philippines so I didn't cook that one item.
With the recipe from my beloved mother that she sent through smses, a picture from an old Indonesian recipe magazine that I brought to Philippines, I was determined to complete this nasi tumpeng for lunch birthday for me and my family.
At 7am, I started the work together with the maid I took to wet market. I chose her because she has passion for cooking. She is a Filipina and never knew and never saw a nasi tumpeng before. I had to give her very clear instructions and had to make sure that she could follow through properly so that the result would be just like the picture.
Since I didn't plan ahead, I didn't do any preparation nor making any decoration for the tampah for this nasi tumpeng. I understood that nasi tumpeng is a very complicated Indonesian dish. It was an elaborate complete Indonesian dishes in one tray but I still wanted to do it. My mom was a champion of nasi tumpeng creation. She won an award for making the most beautiful nasi tumpeng in the competition of nasi tumpeng during one of Indonesian Indepence day celebrations when I was only 10 years old. I witnessed how she created all. I wanted to be like her. She was so excited too when I informed her about it. She kept on texting me with so many tips.
Finally, at around 12.30pm, everything was completed and fully decorated. I had done my magic in the kitchen and it was time to show off the result...:)
Everyone was so surprised, especially my husband. Everyone said the nasi tumpeng was very unique and beautiful. The candles were lighted by my husband. He gave me 2 dozen of red and pink roses for the birthday gift. He also bought 2 boxes of Collete's buko pie to compliment my nasi tumpeng. My Tagalog teacher and my 2 maids were present too. After we sang happy birthday for me, I blew the candle with the help from my beloved son. Then I gave the honor to my husband to cut the peak of the cone rice. Everyone said the nasi tumpeng was a blast. The dishes were delicious and beautifully presented.
I was so happy and satisfied with the result. I could not believe I did it without any preparation. I know that my first nasi tumpeng is far from perfect but the pride I got from being able to preserve the tradition in the foreign land for non-Indonesians to enjoy was hard to describe, especially tomorrow is the Indonesian Indepence day. In fact, this nasi kuning was not the only tradition/culture of Indonesia that I carried to Philippines, I also introduced batik attire. I wore batik once to the Parents and Teachers Association meeting and I had many compliment from my filipina friends that my batik dress was very beautiful. I felt so heroic for I managed to introduce my Javanese tradition in The Philippines. No matter how far I am from my country, I still love my Indonesia. Although in my family, I am the only Indonesian and I do not live in my country for many years, Indonesia is still in my blood and my way of life. Merdeka! Happy Independence day, Indonesia! Selamat Hari Merdeka Indonesiaku tercinta!
To end this post, I would like to write down the lyric of the beautiful song that always reminds me of Indonesia that was composed by Ismail Marzuki:
Indonesia, tanah air beta (Indonesia my homeland)
Pusaka abadi nan jaya (greatest long lasting heritage)
Indonesia, sejak dulu kala (Indonesia since a long time ago)
Tetap dipuja-puja bangsa (is always be praised by other nations)
Disana tempat lahir beta (it was the place I was born)
Dibuai dibesarkan bunda (raised and sang lullabies by mother)
Tempat berlindung di hari tua (it is the place for my retirement)
Tempat akhir menutup mata.(it is the place for me to rest in peace)
Sungguh indah tanah air beta (What a beautiful my homeland)
Tiada bandingnya di dunia (nothing compared to it in the whole world)
Karya indah Tuhan Maha Kuasa (Beautiful creation of God the Almighty)
Bagi bangsa yang memujanya (for the people that praise His Holy name)
Indonesia ibu pertiwi (Indonesia the motherland)
Kau kupuja kau kukasihi (I adore you I love you)
Tenagaku bahkan pun jiwaku (My energy and even my soul)
Kepadamu rela kuberi (I give them to you all willingly).
I'm sorry if the English translation is not perfect.