Indonesia / Using ‘food storytelling’ to rekindle an interest in local cuisine

By: Cristyn Lloyd - Posted on: April 10, 2018 | Culture & Life

Food writer, food stylist and owner of Kedai Aput catering service, Ade Putri Paramadita is championing Indonesian home cooking through what she calls ‘food storytelling’

Ade Putri Paramadita is trying to educate people about the intricacies of Indonesian cuisine

Ahead of her appearance at this month’s Ubud Food Festival, she talks about her works, Indonesia’s latest culinary innovations and her plans for the festival.

What is food storytelling?
Not just reviewing a restaurant, but telling the story behind the food’s recipe, the idea, the traditions in the recipe. When you know the story behind food you appreciate it even more. We’re trying to encourage people to cook by themselves at home, to have a family dinner, which is not common any longer in big cities… We also [arrange] activities like going to the traditional market together, where I can introduce them to local ingredients… because otherwise people just cook what they already know. They’re not actually that eager to discover new things.

What does food innovation mean to you?
A few years back, not many Indonesian youngsters were interested in eating Indonesian food, especially cooking [it]. But nowadays they have the idea of how to make food look pretty, how to interpret food in a modern way… Indonesian foods are rich but most of them are not attractive at all… We cover everything with sauces. So what [chefs] do nowadays, I think, is pretty innovative – trying to make it look different, so the youngsters get more attracted to it.

What are the challenges of working with food in Indonesia?
The challenge is to get good ingredients, because most of the good ingredients [will be] exported. So in Indonesia we don’t actually [get to use] the best [quality ingredients] – we [can use] the second quality if you know how to get them. Otherwise we just get the third quality. All the best seafood is sent to the US or Japan… So that’s a challenge. I think also to educate people that Indonesian food is not just about rice. We’ve been taught for our whole lives that carbs are just rice. Actually, we have so many, but not many people really care about it. They just want to eat rice.

Tell us about something you’ll be doing at the Ubud Food Festival…
[In] one class I’ll be teaching food sketching, which I recently just learned as well… I’m not gifted at all – I’m so bad at anything art related, but a few months ago I found that sketching is actually interesting if you know what you want to sketch. I’m super into food, so I tried to sketch my own cooking before I cook. I tried to plan. It went quite OK. I think this is one of the newest innovations of telling stories – when I sketch something, I also tell people what I’ve put in it, why I put [in] those things, why I plate it that way.

This article was published in the April edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. For full access, subscribe here.

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