As we travel through the diverse regions of the island of Bali, we notice more and more the connectedness to nature and beauty that are imbued in every aspect of life. From the unique architecture that uses light and lush plants to give you a sense of being outside even when you are inside, down to small offerings of brightly colored flowers, candies, snacks inside a banana leaf bowl that are placed daily on doorsteps, street corners, statues – the way of living in Bali is constantly reminding you to connect yourself to nature and take time to appreciate beauty.
Even the food demonstrates this philosophy. We make a stop within our first 30 minutes of landing because we are hungry and see a road-side snack stand, known as a warung, covered in all these different dishes we’ve never seen before. Our driver helps us decide which ones to get and helps negotiate the price. We are clumsy with the rupiah, unable to quickly convert away all those zeros we see on the bills. Turns out, we spent about $2 USD and got a bounty of snacks beautifully wrapped in banana leaves (a theme we will see throughout our visit and grow to love!). The cone shaped packets open up to reveal rice topped with some meat, sambal, and noodles. The fire of the sambal hits us immediately, and we can’t get enough. The driver shows us how to rip off a piece of the banana leaf to make a spoon to make it easier to eat. What a simple, beautiful, and eco-friendly way to present snack food!
Later in our trip, we visit higher end restaurants in Seminyak, the bustling center of nightlife, dining and shopping in southwest Bali. The meals here continue to amaze us as we first have our eyes filled with the unique design of each restaurant, and then oohs and aahs over the the gorgeous presentation of each dish, and then the satisfied silence of tasting the amazing flavors of the food laid out before us. We order like queens because everything is so affordable.
Balinese food is bursting at the seams with flavor and spice. We love the fragrant, golden rice, Nasi Kuning, cooked in coconut milk, turmeric, lemongrass and other spices. We happily try out every different sambal that comes with each dish. There are peppery sambals, raw onion sambals, sweet and spicy sambals. We want sambal on everything! The flavors are so varied and new to our palates, that we excitedly try everything we see.
We even took a cooking class while there and found ourselves in a small kitchen facing a beautiful view of some rice paddies pounding out spices and herbs in a giant wooden mortar and pestle. Again, we find ourselves steeped in nature and beauty at every turn. We learn this way of living is a reflection of a predominantly Hindu population, believing in gods in every aspect of life. Being here you sense this reverence for all parts of life, large and small.
We’ve bundled up all this spicy inspiration for you in this next month’s Spice Madam box in which we will take you through the flavors of Bali! Sign up now to get this box delivered to you in November! Deadline to sign up is 10/31, so we hope you will join us soon on this culinary adventure!