Jakarta Food Tour Experience when Fasting Month


It is Ramadan. Indonesia is home to the largest population of Muslims in the world. Over 12{9e84ad3adf7f6649419c3d34c511cc75d18ba3101b1ac61299241cdd2f2cd7ab} of the world’s Muslims live here, and about 100 of them are sitting to my left and to my right on short, green plastic chairs, in a street-side restaurant with a roof made of stretched-tarp. They stare at their food, waiting for the clock to strike 6:00 p.m. Many awoke early to eat breakfast at 4:00 a.m., and then went without food and water for the last 14 hours. It is oppressively hot and humid, especially with all of these hungry bodies packed into a room that traps heat, testing everyone in their last few minutes of fasting.

Everyone but me. I am on a food tour. During Ramadan.


So I begin with the soup, and I move onto the Tempe Bacem. All but one person eyes me with contempt. It doesn’t matter that I’m the infidel. What matters is that everyone is hungry. And I’m eating. (There was one other person, a Muslim man who seemed in his early 60s, who kept sneaking little pinches of white rice into his mouth, refusing to chew so that his secret might be safe.) I’m a fan of sacrifice, but in a world where few ever remove their mask, I love that guy.
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