Working in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, had been an incredible eye-opener to the (understatement of the year) diverse world of Indonesian food. Specifically, I’m referring to makanan Manado, or food from the mostly Catholic city of Manado on the island of Sulawesi.
My office at the time was a three-minute walk to a Manadonese eatery, which first introduced me to the fiery, no holds-barred cuisine. It is best known for its smoked cakalang, or skipjack tuna, spicy sambal, or chili pastes, and for cooking basically anything.
After a visit to what is likely one of the world’s more colorful wet markets in Tomohon, Indonesia, I was inconveniently feeling peckish. I say that because, I went to the market specifically on an empty stomach, but left with an even emptier one. None of the wet market stalls had anything ready-to-eat, so it was up to visiting neighboring street vendors for a bite.
After a few days of chowing down on a veritable Noah’s Ark, it was time for something…tame. Enter, tinutuan/bubur Manado, or Manadonese porridge:
OK, so the word tame was used above in somewhat jocular manner. You see, although tinutuan is a hot watery local rice porridge made with pumpkin, corn, water spinach, and other ingredients less likely to harry PETA worshipers, it is still typically served with a piquant sambal. Tinutuan, like bubur in other parts of the country, is much more common as a breakfast dish; it’s fast, ingredients are cheap and plentiful, and no street vendor ever has to worry about washing dishes for the next customer. Whoops, the cat’s out of the bag.
By the way, the Indonesian version of “there’s no use crying over spilled milk” is nasi sudah menjadi bubur. Which is to say, “the rice has already become porridge.”