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Spiced rat and buffalo cheeze

Travellers probably arrive in the capital of South-Sulawesi, Makassar, a city which is known throughout entire Indonesia for it's fish and seafood. Lobsters, shrimps, octopus and crabs are roasted on charcoal here and served with rice and a sauce of fresh hot Spanish peppers. Bandeng (milkfish) or baronang (rabbitfish) - loved by foreigners because it doesn't have much fishbone - is freshly grilled and dipped into a sweet-hot sauce, an unforgettable meal. Poaching, called pallumara in Makassarese, is another delicious method of preparing fish.
Makassar is also known for it's dish that's named coto Mankasara: a spicy boiled dish of shopped buffalo intestants with a tip of fresh lemon and pepper sauce. It's normally only eaten in the morning with steamed rice.
The unique specialty of the district Enrekang is dangke, a cheeze from buffalo milk, which is sometimes eaten fried. East- and Southeast-Asian cultures don't use much diary products; buffalomilk cheeze is an exception.

Hot rat

The mostly Christian Minahasa people from North-Sulawesi don't seem to like any dish without much additional cabe or Spanish peppers. Each dish with the words rica-rica in it's name is probably overloaded with a mixture of hot peppers, tomato, onions, garlick and ginger. What brands the local kichen is dishes that aren't completely 'clean', among them wild rat, bats and of course pork. "RW" is a nickname for dog.
There are dishes for all kinds of tasted. Try the very nice pork sate, roasted on charcoal, or baked ikan mas, which is eaten with a sauce of pepper, onion and lemon; this dish is locally known as dabu-dabu. Even more nice (though uncommon in restaurants) is the boiled tuna (cakalang fufu), baked or boiled in coconut milk.
Another popular dish in Manado is tinutuan or bubur Manado, a thick spicy rice porridge with vegetables and pieces of fried fish. Milu, a very clear, somewhat sour soup made from corn, small shrimps, Spanish peppers, lemon and other tastefull additives, comes from Gorontalo west of Manado.

Tropical fruit paradise

On Sulawesi you can find banana's in all kinds of shapes and sized, varying from the small pisang lilin (candle banana) to the big pisang tunduk (baking banana), which are consumed in different ways: raw, baked in pastry, boiled in a sweet coconut mix or like chips.

Picture: Drying fish

There are many fruit: the sweet jeruk siompu from Buton and limung cina from Manado are very nice. Jeruk panas (air jeruk, jeruk peres or jeruk nipis), mixed with boiled water and a lot of sugar is a nice drink even on a warm day. Markisa or passionfruit juice, available in bottles tastes wonderfull with gin.
Other local specialties are manggis, the huge nangka with it's rough skin, and the hairy red rambutan (related to the lychee). Exotic creations like the palmyrafruit (lontar), the salak, papaya, mango, starfruit and guave fill this impressive series. And then there is the durian. In April, the climax of the durian-season, you will find stands along the road, all selling them. The odour and looks are hard to miss. You should approach it without prejustice and don't stop too soon, you should learn to eat it.

Drinks and sweets

Sulawesi produces a few of the best arabica-coffe in the world, byt only little of this reaches the local market. The coffee that is used on the island is common robusta, which is often mixed with corn and made with normal boiled water over freshly ground coffee and a spoon of sugar. It's drunk after a meal with a sip of condensed milk as well. Thea is served at all meals.
A report over food is not complete without tuak or palm wine. Tuak is tapped from different kinds of palm trees; the best comes from the flowers of the sugarpalm (Arenga saccharifera). The fluid from the lontar palm in the dryer parts of South-Sulawesi is also reasonably good, but the juice of the nipah-palm is seen as inferrior. Good tuak is a great drink which tastes a little sweet but gets more strong and sour when it gets older. Quality varied.
Dried or fried cassava is a popular snack as well. There are several different meat-and vegetable snacks, named jalan kote in the south and panada in the north. There are numerous kinds of cake, kue, with a variety of assesoiries and roasted cashew nuts. In the north they have halwa kenari, a candy made from the kenari-nut, covered in a thin layer of brown sugar, and several other snacks like the bagea. Other snacks are cookies from brown palm sugar, mixed with coconut or peanuts (wajik), separately wrapped in leafs. Eskrim goreng (fried ice) is a specialty from Manado which you just have to try.


On Sulawesi, as elsewhere in Asia, eating means eating rice. In many languages on the island the word 'rice' is the same as for 'eat'.
Food is an important part of hospitality. Even a poor family will offer the visitor a glass of boiled water or send someone out in the trees to grab a coconut. The guest isn't supposed to reach out to what it is given directly, and should make a gesture that it wasn't needed to do. The 'taboo' is lifted after the people have envited the guest to eat and drink. It is impolite to refuse what is offered to you, but it's not good either to eat all there is; you could eat tomorrow's food as well. When having such meetings, drinks and food are used to be friendly and probably not an effort to fill up the guests.
In a restaurant it can happen that a visitor envites all people present to share the meal. Don't take this litterary; it's more the generousity and the social character of this culture.

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