Bali is worldwide known as the “Island of Gods” but I would personally add an extra word to complete this nickname, which is, undoubtedly, food. Not only because the food is delicious here but also because of the importance has reached along my Balinese experience. In fact, many of the cultural practices that have caught more my attention for these months have been related to mealtime.
First of all, Indonesians rarely eat together at the table, they usually do it everywhere such as on a mat, on the floor, or somewhere around the living room, and at different times. My first host family always had dinner together with me at the table, finding out some weeks later after my arrival that was uncommon, and they only did it to be nice to me knowing that in Europe families usually have dinner together. This shows how exceptional Balinese hosts are, always trying to make the guest feels like home.
Plus, though most Balinese eat with their hands –right one-, in most of places I have stayed (quite a few already) there is always a fork and a spoon, leaving the knife inexistent at table in Bali. I got used quickly to this, because for most of Balinese dishes, knives are not necessary.
Also, as in many other Asian countries, rice is an essential part of the meal. There is no meal without rice. In the morning, housewives prepare plain rice and some other dishes (tempeh, tofu, chicken, fish or vegetables) and sambal (spicy sauce) to accompany. These are left covered on the table and are eaten all along the day, not making differences for lunch or dinner.
Another thing I found curious is when invited to a home and all the food disposed, I was the only one eating, while all the others stared at me and smiling. This is a way to show the guest is special to them, and will make everything possible to comfort them.
All these singularities together with the delicious food you find everywhere in Indonesia have made the mealtime an unforgettable memory about my life in Bali.