Friday, July 29, 2016

EER R&R: Bali Part Two

I really love the bed here! So comfortable. I woke up to my too-early alarm, dressed quickly, and headed to the lobby for a quick breakfast before meeting Kadek for my next Traveling Spoon adventure. Kadek and his sister Putu have been hosting TS guests for a year, and they are gracious and wonderful hosts. I highly recommend booking with them if you're here! Kadek and I drove first to the regency town of Gianyar where we visited the local market. The huge, sprawling daily market is not tourist-oriented, and I was the only Westerner there. But that only meant friendly greetings and smiles and lots of welcomes, in typical Balinese style. Kadek talked me through vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, meats, fish, and many other available ingredients. It was a bit of an overwhelming sensory experience, but I loved it. We bought a few items and then continued on. The entire ride Kadek patiently explained elements of Balinese life and culture and answered all of my questions.

We arrived in the village, a gorgeous collection of family compounds set amid fields and rice paddies, and we pulled up to Putu's compound and met the family. I met several generations of their family and enjoyed a fresh coconut water while Putu's young son shyly showed me all of his treasures. After a few minutes of preparation it was time to cook.

And cook we did - a veritable feast! I helped in cutting veggies, meat, and spices and then combining spices (poorly) in the mortar and pestle. Clearly I need more practice! We first made a vegetable and chicken soup with edamame-like beans that was light and delicious and a perfect second breakfast. And then the marathon really began. We made chicken with tofu and egg steamed in banana leaves, rice with sweet potatoes, pork with a soy sauce marinade, chicken satay, vegetable sambal, and black rice pudding. The base for all of the dishes centered on a combination of several simple ingredients: shallots, garlic, chilis, ginger, galangal, candlenuts, kaffir lime leaves, turmeric (orange and white), and a few other spices. Freshly-grated coconut featured heavily, and sweet soy sauce made several appearances. It was all delicious.

We finished cooking just as the kids came home from school, and everybody got to enjoy the outcomes of my first foray into Balinese cooking. What a lovely way to spend the morning. Kadek drove me back to Ubud, and I had a well-deserved nap. I capped off the night with a spa treatment and luxuriated in the hotel's extremely comfortable bed for a good night's sleep.

Thursday I hadn't planned to do much, and my body decided that was a good idea. In addition to my persistent cough I started feeling the effects of Bali belly, which was somewhat inevitable given my adventurous eating on this trip. I could have picked it up anywhere, and I choose to think it came from brushing my teeth with tap water once before seeing the sign not to! So lots of fluids, naps, and spa treatments were the order of the day. I went to the hotel's restaurant for dinner and enjoyed some live music from a guitarist/singer, but by then I was also suffering from vertigo and needed to be horizontal. I really have been fighting my share of ickiness this vacation - sadly so common when winding down after intense periods of work. It's a good thing I'm now in full relaxation mode!

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