If food is the bridge between disparate cultures, then the recently held culinary dialogue sponsored by the Goethe Institut Indonesien is an act of culinary diplomacy.
Chef Helge Hagemann of Hamburg-based Werteköche: Chefs with Values and highly acclaimed Chef and writer Petty Elliott joined forces to create a special menu celebrating the virtues of both German and Indonesian cuisine. With fusion food making in a come back of sorts, this collaboration combined the intricasies of flavour and texture in a very successful marriage that yielded results that vacillated between supremely harmonious - and sublime!
The meal started off with slices of German bread and crisp Indonesian kerupuk served alongside a range of sides including sambal matah and chicken liver parfait. It progressed to a sampling of a fish dish and beef tartar with a rendang sauce, Fusion here was certainly modernist, with individual dishes presented with a matching flavour from the other side. The main course was a slow braised chicken, a universal dish, but the sides, onion cream, walnut and grapes (decidedly Western) were a rather proper match for the dark intensity of nutmeg and clove leaf. Each bite held deep flavour, one that was certainly a match perfectly orchestrated and well drawn.
For dessert, diners—who spanned the gamut from the city’s diplomatic, media and literary communities—were served a caramalised sliced apple, along with crumbles in a strawberry long pepper sauce with vanilla custard. The Indonesian element here was subtle but provided a bit of a kick to a decidedly western staple.
Fusion, when done right, can be a splendorous thing. This dinner, with its subtle bursts of flavour and celebration of cuisines still coming into their own in the epicurean world, certainly ticked all the boxes. Perhaps this could be the start of a more refined, if delicious, take on bridging the cultural divide.