Posted by: mel | December 15, 2009

From salted duck egg to telor asin

Taiwan News | Central News Agency | By Joe Hung | 15 December 2009

Siti was not happy. But the four-year-old girl should be, while attending together with her mother a joyously noisy wedding party of a beautiful “princess” from Palembang in southern Sumatra.

The bride is the daughter of Ferry Yahia, former Indonesian economic and trade representative in Taipei. Mrs. Yahia is a daughter of the Palembang datuk, an Indonesian counterpart of a great British lord of yore.

Her daughter’ s traditional wedding ceremony, which took place at a rebuilt regal Sumatran palace in the Pendopo Agung Sasono Utomo cultural theme park in the heart of Jakarta, started with a parade, led by a martial-art dancing duet. The performance appears like an ancient bride-robbing ritual.

Under a noble canopy, the couple to be married, in full princely and princessly regalia, followed with a long cortege of ladies in waiting. They proceeded to the throne-like seats between those of the parents of the bride and the groom.

Siti should be fascinated to watch the wedding parade in the palace along with hundreds of relatives, friends and dignitaries. She wasn’t, for she had to wait in vain until after all of them had extended congratulations to the newly-weds and their parents in law for a chance to get the only thing she wanted, telor asin.

That’s one of the salted duck eggs, attached to short plumed bamboo sticks like Easter eggs. They were inserted into a straw- wrapped pole decorated like a Christmas tree. Siti coveted telor asin, which would be given away to guests as a souvenir for their lucky attendance, though she doesn’t know how salted duck eggs, a common and not expensive Chinese delicacy, have come to be part of Indonesian culinary culture.

Chinese emigrants to the former Dutch East Indies left their southern Fujian home a little earlier than those who migrated to Taiwan in the 17th century. Salted duck eggs were one of the least expensive sources of protein on their diet.

Indigenous peoples on Taiwan did not take to the salted eggs, but their cousins in the Dutch Indies did. Well, some of Taiwan’s tribespeople still keep away the eggs which they regard as taboo.

Over the years the Austronesian people in Indonesia have come to consider telor asin a coveted part of their diet, like bihun, rice vermicelli that is Taiwan’s most popular “pasta.” They accept rice vermicelli as their own and use the Hoklo word of bihun to call the tasty food, which is also enjoyed by those Japanese born and brought up on Taiwan while it was under Japan’s colonial rule.

Waiting for almost two hours, Siti was close to tears, when she was given the souvenir. All her misery was gone. She beamed when Sun Shine Kwang, chairperson of Radio Taiwan International, gave her her telor asin.

Visiting Jakarta to attend the 72nd founding anniversary of Antara, Kwang was invited to the prince’s wedding party. Andrew Hsia, Taipei’s economic and trade representative in Indonesia, had also been invited, but he had to excuse himself. As he had to attend a meeting in Bali of Taiwan businessmen in Indonesia, he asked Tommy Lee, his press counselor, to represent him.

While in Jakarta, Kwang’s RTI signed a memorandum of understanding on news exchange with the Indonesian national news agency on news exchange. So did Antara and the Central News Agency. Their cooperation is expected to promote a better understanding and friendship between Taiwan and Indonesia, the largest of the ASEAN states.

All ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will join China in forming one of the world’s biggest free trade zones, come January 1. Taiwan has to promote trade with and investment in Indonesia.

“You know our Taiwan entrepreneurs have invested heavily in Indonesia,” said Lester Leu, deputy director of the economic division of the Taipei Economic and Trade Office in Jakarta.

Indonesia is the third top destination of Taiwan’s foreign direct investment after China and Vietnam. They invest mostly in textile and other manufacturing industries. “We hope more investment will come to Indonesia from Taiwan,” Leu said.

Some investors from Taiwan must introduce products that will become part of Indonesian culture like telor as in and bihun.


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