|It's a little embarrassing to see how|
extremely popular KFC is in Bali.
The very first thing I want to impress you, the Reader, with is: avoid the restaurants. Don't go to a freakin' restaurant if you want the flavor of Bali. There is a high number of restaurants in every town and city, and they're meant for the tourists, even those that claim to have the authentic Balinese flavor and charm. No. Restaurant = Tourism.
|Even a mild curiosity can disclose|
some of the most fantastic dining to
be had, for very cheap.
But let's talk money. When you can get a delicious meal for $1.50, why would you voluntarily shell out $40 for an imported sirloin steak? And $1.50 in the States is not equivalent to $1.50 in Bali, regardless of the exchange rates. It's more like five or six bucks, to them. When you tip, US$0.50 is much more significant, whereas back in Minneapolis it would be nothing short of insulting. Then again, no one tips here--it's not expected, which is very difficult for me and my friends to get used to. It feels churlish to indulge in this fantastic food in this amazing environment and not toss a couple bucks to the friendly and lovely waitstaff.
And people go to the restaurants for "comfort food." I will allow that's a very important psychological crutch: when you're stymied by the breakdown in communication and customs, when you're overwhelmed with people trying to sell you things or the sidelong glances you suspect you're receiving, and when you're tired of having to ask what every single item on a menu is, yes, sometimes it's valuable to sit down with what resembles a hamburger and a Coke. I wouldn't begrudge anyone their psychological shelter in seeking out a nice enchilada or a hot dog, really. I do not, however, accept that as a way of life for someone living or vacationing abroad.
|This looks like a busy, unkempt little|
kitchenette, but it produces some of
the tastiest, most authentic
Balinese food to be found in Sanur.
In fact, it's come to the point where I tend to evaluate major purchases by units of meals. I've had delicious lunches from 80¢ to US$1.50, so if I'm at a bar and estimating whether I need another imported drink for seven bucks, that's about five lunches. Is one drink worth exchanging for a week of ayam bakar or soto campur? Maybe one, but never two. And anyway, too many drinks means waking up late, which means missing out on the palpably cool morning and maybe losing a complimentary breakfast, depending on where you're staying. Even the extreme-budget Hotel Yani provided a fantastic breakfast buffet each morning, and not a rinky-dink modest fruit selection with a slice of toast.
- ayam bakar
- "chicken" + "grilled"
- soto campur
- "soup" + "lots of meat/vegetables"
- nasi goreng
- "rice" + "fried"