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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

I like pork. A lot. I’m also a huge fan of spicy food; the spicier, the better. I avoid superlatives and cannot tell you my favorite cuisine, nor can I name my favorite dish, BUT Balinese food (and Babi Guling) is definitely up there. My 8 days in Bali were a pork fueled spice fest made possible by two wonderful hosts I met through CouchSurfing.

Nina, my first host, picked me up from the airport. As soon as I checked into a hotel and dropped my bag off, she introduced me to babi guling. It was love – or lust – at first bite. Babi guling was the alpha and it was also the omega. My last meal before boarding the bus to pork-less Muslim Java was babi guling, with an extra plate of skin.

In addition to roast suckling pig, Nina also introduced me to several other Balinese and Indonesian dishes. We tried the Balinese staple, ayam betutu at the iconic Gilimanuk. We also had sate a few times. At only about a dollar a pop, it’s tough to resist!

While in Singoraja, we tried their signature dish: syobak singaraja. It was pork with plenty of offal coated in a very Chinese tasting sauce. Nina also took me for some Indonese/Chinese food and Balinese rice.

My second host, Lina, has a one track mind. Two if you include napping. In my first 12 hours with Lina, we had 10 different, spicy, delicious things to eat and took 3 naps. We started with the spiciest salad I’ve ever had in my life, rujak kuah pindang. I told Lina I liked very spicy food and I thought her leading off with the rujak was a test. At the same place, we also had es campur (an ice salad), and bulung (a spicy seaweed salad with crunchy little peanuts).

After a nap, we hit up the market and had goat sate and a curried goat soup. Then we had nasi jingo, a popular little snack of rice, noodles, and beef wrapped in a banana leaf. The nasi place also had a soft boiled egg with salt and pepper.

I’ve had some spicy food in my time, but I must say that the sambal we had with nasi tempong lele was the spiciest thing that’s touched these lucky lips. When I opened my mouth, it felt like fire was coming out. I was very happy! This was also my first time trying pete, which is known for being stinky and making your pee the same.

My best food experience in Bali, and one of the best in my life, was our pre-dawn trip to the secret babi guling restaurant. Lina’s mom also cooked us some delicious meals and picked us up some dog and wild boar from a restaurant near their home.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from the food in Bali. I was just going there because it seemed like a good starting point for Indonesia and didn’t have lofty expectations as far as eating was concerned. I was blown away by the food and it’s worth going to Bali just to eat.

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