Side Dish: Fried Snackin’
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about food while living in Indonesia, it’s that ANYTHING can be fried. I’ve eaten fried meats, fried sweets, fried tofu and tempe, fried fruits and fried veggies. I think the only thing that I haven’t seen fried is ice cream, but we’ll leave that to the Mexicans.
Snacks, or makanan kecil (said mah-kan-ahn keh-cheel), are a big racket here and while you can find potato chips and biscuits in any grocery store, some of the best snacks are the local ones. In Sumatra you’ll find fried cassava chips and tapioca chips and little fried puffy snacks of all kinds. In Java pisang goreng (fried banana) is the major fried snack of choice for locals (and my friends Sina and Tom of Travel4More.org)! And in West Sumatra I’ve enjoyed fried fritters of corn, lettuce and chilies.
But when it comes to grabbing a handful of something crunchy for a quick snack, one of my favorites is keripik bayam (spinach chips). They are spinach leaves tossed in rice flour and fried up to be eaten like a potato chip. That’s it—aside from the accompanying mandatory packet of sambal (hot sauce), because it’s Indonesia and unless the food you eat is burning your lips off, it’s apparently “flavorless”.