a colonial delight.


Rijsttafel (rice table) is a typical Dutch invention that dates from colonial times. In all Indonesian restaurants in the Netherlands "rijsttafel" is the prima-donna on the menu. There are also restaurants in Indonesia that cater for tourists that have "rijsttafel" on their menu. Actually rijsttafel is very funny, it consists out of rice and many side dishes, the more the better. So you have rice with sayur lodeh, babi panggang (ofted spelled as baby pangang), soto, rendang, gado-2 and ayam opor on the same plate, something that is "jarang" in Indonesia, they don't serve combinations of Javanese, Sumatran and food from other islands over there. The Dutch also love to campur this all, they think one should eat rijsttafel like that.

On the contrary in Holland they don't serve sauerkraut, salted herring, cheese fondue, pea soup with bread at the same meal. In Dutch thinking rijsttafel goes very well together with beer, the more sophisticated order white wine from a Chateau Renommée of a good year. Where Indonesians often drink water or teh tawar with their food. And of course the Dutch don't eat with their hands. My Gosh a restaurant ain't a bonbin toh.

In the colonial times many Dutch ate their own food i.e. the food they used to eat in their homecountry, they could not feed on rice, so they ate patatoes, bread, drank milk and ate cheese, biefstuk and carbonade. Only one time a week, on a Sunday they had the food of the "inlanders" at home or in a restaurant. The last course of these rijsttafel was always steak with fried patatoes !! I have Dutch friends over here who also don't eat Indonesian food, as they don't trust it, so they make their own western food at home or eat in Western orientated restaurants. One of them who goes back to Nederland every 2 months brings suitcases full of Dutch food, even jars of sambal. I consider myself as a Belanda kesasar and eat rice 2 times a day, as I think Indonesian food is quite OK, but also very practical, as one can easily find it everywhere in Indonesia.

In the good old days the Indo-Dutch in Indonesia also ate rice, they loved to be Dutch on the outside and "inlander" inside (Insider). If Papi had a good position with the Goverment and the salary that went with that they had lots of staff, there were the Baboe, Kokkie, Sopir, Kebon and lots of Djongos and other servants. For everything there was someone to take care of, the only thing those people had to do themselves was to breath and to sleep. Mami was the queen of the kitchen she only had to instruct the servants and get angry if they did not exactly do as she ordered, which was often, but meanwhile she copied the tricks of every koki. When Daddy had a position in the Goverment they moved often to other places in the Archipelago, with other kinds of food. Mami had her receipe book always ready and made notitions of every receipe. These receipe books have been taken to Holland. When invited to one of these families one can have the best Indonesian food one can imagine, as these books go from Mother to Daughter, hard to find food like that nowadays in Indonesia. It's a pity to say Indonesians often look first at the price of food and then at the quality, as with lots of sambal everything tastes good in their mouths : pedas. This is especially the case since the economical crises broke out in 1998. One can find many warungs with names as "Murah Meriah" "Lumayan" "Sederharna" "Goyang lidah (bukan dompet)". Also Western influence is seen, here in Solo many kaki-5 sell Kentaki Fred Ciken, whatever that might be.


Here a sample of a “luxery” Dutch Rijsttafel:

Pangsit Goreng
Frikadel Kentang

Nasi Putih
Nasi Kuning
Bami Goreng

Seafood Schotel
Ayam Rudjak
Daging Smoor
Gulee Kambing
Sate Kambing (2 st.pp)
Sayur Lodeh
Sambal Goreng Boontjes
Telor Bali

Atjar Ketimoen
Bawang Goreng
Sambal Badjak

Gado Gado


NB.Notice the mix of languages in this menu, Dutch, Bahasa Indonesia ejaan lama & baru, English. 
A 'rijsttafel' by it selve

Source: http://www.ikanmas.nl/catering/menu-5.htm

Here a sample how they ate:

The Schooner Pilgrim's Progress   
             A Voyage Around the World in 1932-1934               
                                                          by Donald C. Starr

    “The Brumsens introduced us to our first rystafel, or rice table, which is an experience no traveler to the East Indies can easily escape.  It is as much a "sight" as the Boroboedoer in central Java.  You first heap an enormous plate with rice for a foundation and accept a few shrimps which you place on the plate's rim.  Next, watching your hostess, you mix the shrimp with some of the rice and swallow with a zest of appetite deferred and stimulated by several doses of Dutch gin, taken conversationally and neat.  An ordinary appetite would never carry you through a rystafel.  Some anchovies arrive at your left elbow, which taste even better, and then some red peppers, cut into strips.  Your beer glass has been filled in the meantime, and you take time out for a swallow to quench the fire of the peppers. Then you return to your plate only to find a platter of fish balls under your nose.  You must take a little of everything, and that means you must keep on eating diligently enough to keep room on your overflowing platter for it.  As the mixture gets hotter, particularly after a dab of chutney is added, you find yourself in a fine state of activity, what with the increasing necessity of more beer, attempting secretively to mop your brow, and telling your hostess what you think of Banda.

    When at length your spirit is at the point of breaking, the serving boys call a truce.  You sit back and heave a sigh which begins in relief but ends in an inner groan: you realize you have only just been breaking even up to now, and your plate is still covered.  But your palate is nearly anesthetic by now and you feel as though you have been eating for as long as you can remember.  You continue doggedly to go through the motions - swallow, mop, and gulp, "Yes, indeed, it is!" mop, swallow - until as with the tiger in the limerick, everything is inside.  Unlike him, the only expression on your face is not a smile but a silly torpid leer.  I went back to the Pilgrim alone that afternoon, probably on my hands and knees, and letting myself down gently by the binnacle, went sound asleep on the deck."  [pp. 242-243]”

Source: http://www.wellofstars.com/DCS/rystafel.htm

In Dutch-Indo literature one finds many descriptions of experiences with rijsttafel.  


Here how the Rijsttafel was served:  
Old picture postcard: The rijsttafel at the restaurant of the Savoy Hoyman, Bandung 1930’s, look at all the djongos (macet). Makes me think of the better Padang restaurants in Indonesia were the servants try to carry as much plates as possible on their arms. I am always waiting them to fall on the floor, that would be a great sight.  

Selamat Makan



Translation Indonesian words:
jarang = not done, campur = mix, teh tawar = tea without sugar, bonbin - acronym kebon binatang = Zoo, Belanda kesasar =  a foreigner who is very adapted to Indonesia i.e. lives as a native, Inlander = native, pedas = spicy, Murah meriah = very cheap, Lumayan= moderate, Sederharna = simple, Goyang lidah (bukan dompet) = shake your tongue (not your purse) ejaan lama & baru = old and new spelling

Solo 21 maart 2005


Solo 21 maart 2005
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