IO – Gudeg, Yogya’s signature dish, one that you can find anywhere in the city, any time of the day. But for breakfast, true-blue Yogyakartans eat gudeg to accompany rice porridge, not steamed rice. Gudeg porridge is widely sold across the city, but this belly-warming breakfast is not popular among tourists there. Local correspondent Liliana (“Lily”), our friend and a diehard fan of gudeg porridge, explains why: “Gudeg porridge sellers generally open up shop at 06.00 a.m., and people queue for their breakfasts even before then. They’re usually sold out by 07.00,” she said. “Most gudeg porridge sellers put up their stalls at home. They set up tables in their front yard, and they cook only as much as their home stoves allow, sell as much as their tables allow. That way, they don’t cook that much, and they can quickly bring in the table and paraphernalia back in once their porridge is sold out.”
My curiosity about gudeg porridge was sated in my recent visit to Yogya. There, I had my first taste, in the local Gudeg Go dining hall.
Gudeg Go is strategically located at the spot where the Northern Ring Road and Jalan Solo meet. We stopped by for breakfast, as we decided to get a hotel room without it and try out local traditional delicacies instead. The gudeg joint has a quaint atmosphere, dominated by wood chairs that look like what people put out to seat their party guests in the 70’s and 80’s. The quaint atmosphere is extended to its simple, quietly clean toilets.
To get their food, diners need only approach the counter and state their order. Yes, they provide the option of having steamed rice or rice porridge as basis for your gudeg breakfast. However, I naturally chose the porridge at once. Gudeg rice is simply so…mainstream…!
But in any case, gudeg porridge is an excellent breakfast. It’s savory and homely in your mouth, and warm and filling in your belly. No wonder the Yogyakartans are crazy about it. To keep my stomach full longer, I also ordered telur bacem and tahu bacem (marinated egg and tofu) with my gudeg. To tell the truth, I was tempted to order all of the side dishes available behind the counter’s glass. After all, tofu and tempeh from Yogyakarta always taste better than what they serve in Jakarta. I was about to order ati ampela (deep-fried chicken liver and gizzard) too, but I remembered that I need to watch my health and cancelled it. As for my drink, I remained loyal to my beloved plain, sugarless hot tea. I don’t know – maybe it’s the water, maybe it’s the tea, but like everything else, it’s better than what’s in the Capital City. (cae)