Bitten by chocolate!

My neighbor Sherly said she wanted to eat chili tonight, so we went to this food stall in Taman Griya, Jimbaran, Bali. This place (couldn’t remember the name although I am quite a regular here) sells a selection of fried or roast chicken, fish, and catfish served in a terracotta plate with red hot chili paste and some vegetable. We eat it with rice; so yes, tonight I broke my no-rice diet (Sherly, you!) With red hot chili paste in front of your nose, how could you eat only a little rice? Indonesians loooove red hot chili paste, and we eat generously with it, often using our (right) hand as spoon. A spoonful of red hot chili pepper always goes with a plateful of rice. Guilty pleasure!

But waaaait!!! Red hot chili pepper goes with chocolate too! I was stung by instant curiosity when I saw this Monggo chocolate bar displayed in Pepito supermarket. This one stood up with the picture of red chili against its creme wrapper. Chocolate and chili? Interesting! I knew that Monggo is manufactured in Jogja, my hometown. I knew that the owner is a Belgian chocolatier, and therefore Monggo uses premium Belgian chocolate as the main ingredient. I knew that even though Monggo (Javanese word, meaning “Yes, please”) is a local brand, the quality is comparable to International brands. It certainly tastes more chocolaty (read: better) than Hershey’s, trust me.

Red Chili is among Monggo’s new variants. It contains 58% dark chocolate cocoa, vegetable oil, and spicy crispy rice (real red chili is used). The taste is quite a sensation! The spiciness bites your tongue as your teeth  crush the crispy rice. Then it blends with the quality dark chocolate with sweetness that is not overpowering. The spiciness lingers in your mouth for a while, just like the sensation you have after eating regular red chili paste (minus the shallot and garlic, of course!). It is truly a product customized for Indonesians or other Asians who are fond of red chili. It is also for anyone who craves a little adventure.

No doubt, Monggo IS a good chocolate. Very innovative, too. Monggo chocolates are available in major supermarkets and some luxury hotels. For more information, you can check their interesting homepage: http://chocolatemonggo.com/en/home.

My Identi-Tea

Black tea is truly Indonesia. The darker, the better. Dark and sweet. Javanese tea fanatics only take loose tea, brew it in freshly boiled water in a teapot for about five minutes, then pour the tea in a cup filled with lump white sugar. Tea bags are a big NO. I’m a Javanese, never attached to anything in this world to the point of fanaticism, but I do love tea.

As much as I love the bitterness in traditional loose black tea, I grew up digging other tea variants, too, tea bags included. When I’m in a supermarket, I always go to the tea section. To me, these historical Indonesian black teas as well as modern fruity flavored teas are more attractive than potato chips, chocolates, or instant noodles. And this morning I was happy to find that Lipton produced a selection of flavored black tea and infusions at a reasonably low price (compared to pricey Twinings or Dilmah). Some local tea factories have produced similar products before, but I don’t really like how the tea left a funny feel in my throat that I suspect coming from too much use of artificial flavors.

I bought two boxes of Lipton tea: apple flavored black tea and peppermint plain infusion. Each box contains 15 individually packed teabags. Other flavors available are strawberry, vanilla, and caramel. For infusion (no tea leaves used), there are two kinds: peppermint and chamomile. I read the information on the carton box about the ingredients, and I am glad that they use real (dehydrated) fruit. A little artificial flavor is still used, though.

It is raining again outside, and it’s a little bit chilly. A cup of hot tea would be heaven! And I got this new tea to taste. Born and raised as a Javanese, I always like my tea sweet. Instead of adding sugar, I add one block of Lo Han Kuo in my tea this time. Healthy and… hmmmm…. You should try it!

What’s on your plate, and what’s not? I wanna know!

If what you eat defines who you are, what you don’t eat completes the picture. My neighbor Sherly eats a lot of vegetables and avoids McD, KFC, and the likes at all costs, even though they are the closest to your door after your empty fridge. Sherly doesn’t use tap water for brushing her teeth and washing her hair, let alone drinking. She buys water in gallons from a supplier. Thanks to her, I also subscribe to water gallons for drinking. Tap water is fine with me for washing hair and brushing teeth, and once in a while, I still eat junk.

So, those are the rough pictures of Sherly and me seen from some of what we decide to do and not do. Can you read our personalities? Roughly and partially, yes. It is easier to read someone from what they consume, because they are usually tangible. If you’re interested in trying to get into someone’s personality, I would suggest that you also try to find out about what they do NOT consume. What can you see in someone who only drinks sweetened drinks (and tends to avoid plain water), smokes two packs of cigarettes (sometimes more but never less), and indulges himself in fatty and fried food (and skips vegetables) beyond physical consequences, such as possible bloated stomach and high cholesterol? Could we at least say something about his low level of self discipline? Can’t jump into a decision too quickly, but details like those are also hard to ignore, are they not?
Some people change their diets along the way, so this is also interesting to study. The ‘why’s’ behind the decisions to consume things and not consume other things can say something about someone’s character, or a change in character, in the case of a changed diet. Given that people have the choices, of course. Let me tell you of what I have quit consuming: cigarettes (since 3 years ago). I used to have two or three glasses of coffee a day; now the number is reduced to one (since one month ago). I used to be matter of fact about drinking water; now I spend IDR3,500 (45 cents) every day for a bottle of 1.5 liter water to be consumed at work. What can you tell about me, apart from the slight financial change in my wallet? Skip that. Now, what can you tell about you from what’s NOT on your plate?