Walking into Woolworths (Woolies) for the first time in Darwin, we were struck by its immensity, bright lights and clinical cleanliness. Even better, it was filled with all sorts of goodies that had been unavailable to us for months. The range of products dazzled in both variety and breadth of options. Sixteen choices of eggs, an aisle of washing powder options, all glittering and gleaming in their brightly coloured boxes and packages. Oh, and the packaging! Have the fruit and vegetables always had this much packaging? The meats were all neatly laid out on polystyrene trays - a far cry from the wooden chopping block at the front of the stall where chicken was chopped along with the blowies and the fish lined up at the market stalls along the waterfront, plucked fresh from the water, never to know refrigeration.
|Fresh squid at the market in Saumlaki|
|Fish in the Saumlaki market|
After living with limited ability to refrigerate, we believe our western produce is over-refrigerated. Cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes and eggs last perfectly well for a week or more in the hot, stuffy cabin of Popeye. Our fish, poultry and meat however, we would prefer stored in some sort of cooler!
In the air-conditioned brightness of Woolies, we were also struck by the clean cuts of meat - no pigs' snouts, chicken gizzards or whole chooks, complete with head and feet. No wonder we feel removed from the source of our food. Any evidence of the original critter is long gone and the 'ready to cook' chunk of meat is neatly presented on a polystyrene tray. Our veggies are washed clean of dirt, with nary a speck of chook poo to be found on our eggs.
|Frogs, mostly with 'skin off'!|
|Pig snout - perfect for roasting!|
After three moths of foraging and buying what we could get, it was novel to have this huge variety laid out in front of us. Sadly back to our reality, where our food is designed to look good, transport and store well rather than taste fabulous. Already we are missing our eggs spotted with chook poo, bananas filled with seeds and tomatoes and the odd grub ... but food with the sweetest smell and taste.
|Market in Lembata|
Over the last three months, our diet has become simpler. Rice has been our primary starch as nasi goreng (fried rice) or alongside chicken, fish, satay or curry. We generally ate like the locals in warungs, sampling everything from babi gule (suckling pig) to dog (yep, the 'woof, woof' variety). Ice tea (made from cold tea, ice and sugar; not from a can or bottle), water and Bintang beer is what we drank. For snacks, we could get nuts, dried fruit, jam, fancy biscuits and Oreos. More traditional snacks were prawn crackers and sesame squares.
Surprisingly, the further east and more remote we went, the less variety we found in the fruit. Bananas, coconuts and a citrus the size of a grapefruit but sweet like an orange where readily available ... and sometimes papaya and mango. If it was grown locally, we could get it, but not otherwise.
|Warung in Belitung - satay and ayam bakar (grilled chicken)|
|Our favourite warung in Bawean|
|Babi gule in Bali|
|Bakso (chicken balls) in Bali|
We have both lost significant amounts of weight. Our clothes are falling off and we are discovering bony bits we had forgotten about! It is healthy weight loss, due to eating 'food' in sensible portion sizes.
On arriving in Darwin, the first thing (after a shower) was to head to one of the dockside cafes for a meal. So unaccustomed we are to western portions, we were stunned by the size of the steak, the mountain of fries and the forest of salad FOR ONE PERSON. It was more food than the two of us had been eating in three days. No wonder we are skinny! Even sharing a meal, we found it too much. We are curious to see how long it takes us to relapse ...
|Street food in Labuan Bajo|
|Warung in Babar|
|Warung in Lemabta|
|Kids helping out in the warung|