Eating Habit & Custom in Indonesia

Eating with your hands is a custom which is widely accepted among Indonesians. The right hand is always used because the left hand symbolizes everything that is not “good”. When eating with hands, a small bowl of water, or “kobokan”, will also be served along with the food. This is used to rinse your hands before and after a meal. However, it is also pretty common to use spoon and fork to eat in Indonesia. Burping and making noises during meals are considered to be rude in Indonesian customs. It is very common to eat while sitting on the floor with a large group, with dishes served and shared with everyone.

  • Many people think that Indonesian staple food is rice. Actually, local ethnics in Indonesia had their own staple food until around 60's when the 'New Order' regime ruled the country and standardized the staple food to rice.
  • Now, since rice has been the main staple food for Indonesian, many Indonesian thinks they haven't really had meal before they eat rice, even if they have eaten 'lontong' or 'ketupat' which is made from rice too.
  • If you are in Central Java, ordering tea in restaurants means you're ordering sweet tea. If you want your tea without sugar, you have to be very specific about it.
  • Indonesian loves hot and spicy foods. Their standard for 'hot and spicy' is higher than most people in the world, so for those who isn't familiar with Indonesian food should be specific about the 'mildness', just to be safe.
  • Because Indonesian loves hot and spicy foods, they usually bring their own sambal (chili sauce) when they're travelling to another country.
  • And, because Indonesian loves hot and spicy food, the raise of the chili price can make a headline on the news.
  • "Have you eaten yet?" is the most common courtesy for Indonesians when they meet each other. No matter what time it is.
  • Food, is the main reason why most Indonesian who lives in other country suffers the homesickness.
  • Indonesian loves food, and talking. Although talking while eating considered impolite, but bringing the 'food' topics in every conversation is always welcomed.
  • Indonesian can celebrate everything with food. Even in the fasting month, they celebrate it with "buka puasa bersama" (breaking the fast together). 
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