Obama, bakso, and the lucky guy…

“Let’s go to the beach!” is quite often heard in my office around lunchtime. That’s a sign of someone tired of the staff cafeteria’s food. And the idea is almost always welcome by the rest of us. I work in a resort in Tanjung Benoa. This area in Bali does not have the most beautiful beaches, as compared to Nusa Dua, for example, but Benoa is always famous for its wide selection of water sport activities. And for us, hotel staff, we love Benoa beach for its wide selection of delicious, cheap treats offered by various simple-looking food stalls.

One of our favorites is ‘tipat kuah’, rice cake in milky chicken soup, with boiled egg, vegetables, fried shrimps, and Balinese chili paste on the side. Yummy! ‘Tipat kuah’ only costs IDR10,000, roughly USD 1.00. If you’re lucky, you can get a seat by the window with an ocean view and the best breezes. While eating, you can see tourists in swimming wears on speedboats, banana boats, and colorful parasailings.

Our second favorite is meatballs soup we call bakso. You know, I personally think that ‘bakso’ as a word should be internationalized because US President Obama who spent  several years living in Indonesia still favors it. If you don’t believe me, try search on YouTube with key words: obama bakso, and see yourself.

A lot of bakso sellers in Bali, unlike in many other parts in Indonesia, sell bakso on motorbikes. One of these bakso sellers is a Javanese guy named Untung, literally meaning ‘lucky’. He always serves us kindly and efficiently. He acknowledges me instantly because, like him, I am a Javanese and therefore speak Javanese to another Javanese.

Bakso is a perfect treat in a hot afternoon. A bowl of bakso consists of five small chicken meatballs, fried and steamed tofu, rice noodles, and fried dumpling. If you’re like many other Indonesians who call a non-rice meal a snack, you can add rice cake into your soup, and your lunch is valid! All of these costs only IDR5,000 (50 cent!) If tomorrow I go to the beach to eat bakso again and Untung doubles the price, I wouldn’t mind at all.

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