Gudeg: An Edible Heritage

When visiting the city of Yogyakarta in Java, Indonesia, gudeg usually resides on top part of everyone’s bucket lists. The dish is made of shredded young jackfruit boiled in coconut milk and palm sugar, served on a plate covered with banana leaves along with rice, chicken, eggs and spicy cattle skin. It is famous for its sweet and rich flavor that is rather hard to be explained in words. The name of gudeg comes from the word hangudek which represents the laborious stirring process in making this stew that could take a whole day. The procedure of making gudeg is an embodiment of Javanese philosophy. It does not only requires a specialty but also extra patience and collaborative efforts through the art of titeni, which refers to the act of constantly seeking for clarity through deep and careful observations by immersing in a network of activities. In another words, the fundamental recipe for gudeg is active learning through first-hand experience and observations of the meticulous procedures that has been passed down for generations. The dish was told to be invented in the 16th century, when the soldiers of Mataram Sultanate, an old kingdom that used to reside in Yogyakarta, had to cut down the forest filled with coconut and jackfruit trees for a major expansion. It’s fascinating to see how this incidental finding turns into an iconic dish that make people line up for the dining experience: usually set in a loud and packed small hut accompanied by the smell of woodfire coming from the busy kitchen and the sweaty humid of Yogyakarta’s night air.

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