Medan; Gastroversity

Diversity never taste this good

Hola amigo! Been awhile since my last post. Things stampede at the fast lane in the last 4 weeks, very exciting indeed. For the first one and a half week, I’m doing a piece in Medan about cross culture melting pot through their diverse eateries for natgeo. It was crazy, reckon the role i took also as a photographer. The piece is for Natgeo Traveler Indonesia august edition, 2012. The last time i took photos in assignments was that sleepless Singapore – Shanghai overland expedition and this time, things went a lot tougher than before.

I spent about three years in this city. In the 90s, dad was transferred from Jakarta to Medan from 1996-1998. As long as i remember, back in those days, life in Medan was soooo simple. Cool stuff happened here; first piano lesson, first crush at elementary, roller blades, laser discs and Padhyangan Project cassettes. I visited my old house in Cikditiro Street. You know that funny feeling when you visited a place from your past that kept so many forgotten stories of your early days.

There are four main ethnicity in Medan: Chinese, Tapanuli, Melayu and Indians. Chinese and Indians were bought to Medan in between Eighteenth Century Deli Kingdom’s various plantation era. Each of them contribute a strong influence and variety in culinary, reflecting the true meaning of diversity through eateries. Yes i ate Titi Bobrok Aceh Noodle, yes i ‘excavate’ those juicy durians in Ucok’s, yes i ate LOTS of good food there and yes it was amazing.

This city was generally known via people with strong accents and rough impressions. Already put a decent expectation to cope as soon i landed in Polonia, and what I found is truthfully surprising. Obviously spoiled with stuff i dig in Medan. The most important thing is unlike Jakarta, differences in Medan are more obvious. You could easily differ Tamil buds and Chinese, Melayu dudes and Tapanulis. But the thing is, there are no contention between those ethnicity groups. Meanwhile in Jakarta, ethnicity dissension is daily routine. Here are some photos from the trip.

Photo by Teguh Wicaksono, courtesy of National Geographic Traveler

Caption (from top to bottom): Hindi Virgin Mary, located in Graha Maria Velangkani Church; A cross culture church which features a Tamil Priest, Chinese donator, Moslem Architect and Tapanuli visitor // Tor-tor dance in Tribute to Sisingamangaraja, an event to give tribute to Ulos weaving – which nominated in Unesco awards 2012 // Super busy kitchen in Aceh Noodle Titi bobrok, first Aceh noodle restaurant in Medan // Kumar, owner of Sabbas Martabak, one of the oldest martabak tenant in Kampung Keling // Old school Chinese peranakan dinner set in Tjong A Fie museum // Sultan Delu favorite Spot in Tjong A Fie museum // Sniping A tower behind glasses at the great Mosque of Medan // Indian Martabak complete dish // A morning in Gunung Timur Vihara, the biggest Konghucu temple in South East Asia which located near me old house in Cikditiro

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