Friday, June 16, 2017

Drinking alcohol in Indonesia

A plate of Indonesia's iconic gado-gado
The bottle of Indonesian beer I had with that dish ;b
The kind of food I'd rather have a non-alcoholic
drink with rather than an alcoholic one :)
In my six days in Indonesia, I only had alcohol twice.  Actually, let's make it more impressive: the only alcohol I drank over the course of the more than two weeks in total that I spent in Malaysia and Indonesia last month consisted of two bottles of pilsener -- not because I was going out of my way to abstain from alcohol when in those two Muslim majority countries but, rather, because there are so many deliciously refreshing non-alcoholic drinks available there!

The other thing about Indonesia, as in neighboring Malaysia, is that so much of the local food strikes me as going better with non-alcoholic drinks such as fruit juices, teas or coffee than anything alcoholic.  And in Indonesia, I pretty much exclusively ate food that was recognizably Indonesian in nature (except at that one memorable afternoon tea at Yogyakarta's Phoenix Hotel!).
The afternoon after my German friend and I paid a visit to the kraton though, I found myself badly craving cold beer.  It wasn't because of the food I ate at lunch that day (gado-gado with some prawn crackers thrown in, as it turned out).  Rather, it was because our walk from the royal palace to the area of the city where the restaurant we had decided we wanted to eat at -- which also was home to a few batik factories and shops that my German friend was very interested in checking out -- turned out to be considerably longer and under a more mercilessly strong sun and uncloudy sky than we had thought would be the case! 

I know that alcohol is a diuretic (like tea and coffee too, actually), so it theoretically isn't something you should drink when you're feeling dehydrated.  But theory be damned in this case because a cold beer tasted ever so good when we finally did make it to the restaurant (which, unlike some other Indonesian eateries, did have alcoholic drinks on its menu)!

In such conditions, the bottle of Bintang beer refreshed as well as relaxed.  (I'm sure a rest in the shade and a fan blasting our table helped too.)  While I normally prefer ales over lagers, and draft beer to that in bottles or cans, that big bottle of chilled Indonesian pilsener really tasted very nice indeed -- and so much so that I opted to have another the next day in similar conditions (that is, over a meal at a restaurant that we had walked a bit to get to)! :)


sarah sbk said...

Hi ytsl,

Wonderful food photos. I feel like a relic as when we visited Java in the mid 1970's the beer was not cold. It was available many places and usually Heineken in the shorter green bottles. I drank it anyway as not being a beer person I didn't care that it was warm as I preferred it to the hot tea, which my husband drank. The wait people (or waitress or waiter as it was in those days)always placed the tea with me and beer with him.I don't remember specific dishes but the food was fresh and tasty. I still like warm beer.

YTSL said...

Hi sarah sbk --

I'm sure there are parts of Indonesia, even Java, where cold beer is not easily available. Fortunately, that's not the case in Yogyakarta! While I'm okay with drinking British-style ales at room temperature in colder climes, in the tropics, I do like my beer cold -- and, in hot weather, would go for pilseners over such as imperial stouts.

As for the food: I didn't dislike what I ate in Indonesia but I must admit to thinking that Malaysia has Indonesia beat in the food department -- the way that Indonesia definitely has Malaysia beat when it comes to impresive cultural monuments! ;b