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Joining Our New Bali Family

February 8, 2019

Our generous guide, Nyoman, and his wife, Wayan, hosted a cooking class, lunch and very special dance experience at their home for each group. The morning started with a trip to their local market, where Wayan selected the produce she would include in the meal and explained many of the foods that were unfamiliar to us — like snake fruit, mangosteen, rambutan, bitter gourd and Chinese long beans.



Market Stalls

Like many village markets, in addition to foodstuffs, stallholders were selling clothing (including lovely hand-made sarongs), offering elements, children’s toys and flowers. As usual, we were the only Westerners to be seen.

A short hop from the market was the cool enclave of Nyoman’s family. Like virtually all Balinese, he, Wayan and their two children live in a three-generation compound including his parents and his brother and sister-in-law and their children. Each family unit has private quarters, but there is a common family temple used for the numerous celebrations and ceremonies that occur throughout the year. A stone walk wound through a lush garden that opened to a large patio with a covered outdoor kitchen. Anyone who wished to give a hand in the meal preparation was encouraged with instruction from Wayan.



We cut long beans into shorter pieces and mixed them with garlic and shaved fresh coconut, then stir-fried the lot. Mackerel Nyoman caught the evening before was turned into pepes (which I have undoubtedly misspelled): pieces of fillet topped with a fiery sambal, wrapped in banana leaves and grilled; a paste of fresh tuna and spices formed around skewers into sate, then grilled; chicken pieces cooked ultra-crispy in coconut oil; white rice; tempeh; tofu with curry; bitter gourd sliced and mixed with garlic, then stir-fried; and more sambal to spice up everything. An oversize wooden mortar and pestle was the implement of choice for crushing garlic and chiles for sambal. According to Wayan, this was a fairly typical midday meal like one they would cook once a day for the family and eat from for lunch and dinner.


Victor Making SambalAfter lunch we were in for a treat, when nieces, nephews and neighbor children performed traditional dances for us, while Nyoman and Agung ran around with their smoke machines creating atmospheric haze to enhance the show. Two of the boys dressed as the bull or lion in the dance, roaring and clicking to the music. The makeup and costumes were remarkable, and the girls’ eyes so expressive; even though the music was incomprehensible to us, their expressions conveyed fear, surprise and dread as the story unfolded. The Barong, king of the spirits (and a fearsome looking beast), represents good, and his enemy, Rangda, stands for evil. The dance enacts the ongoing battle between the two forces.

  1. What an experience and so far from the normal tourist attractions. Bali sounds and looks lovely in every way!

  2. Courtney Edwards permalink

    I love how colorful the local markets are compared to what I see in the US. In Thailand, I went to a fish/meat market. It was strange to see pigs heads in the display case.

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