|Papaya fish with longans for eyeballs!|
We had an exciting day at the Soropadan Horticultural festival. It was even more crowded today than yesterday. The parking lot was jam-packed with cars parked every which away. I think almost everyone was parked in! There were a surprising number of large black SUVs and other expensive looking vehicles. Joko said they belong to the staff of the governor and the Vice-Minister of the Farming Department
I really loved the displays at the Fruit Carving Competition. Everyone did such an amazing job! A number of the contestants made marine themed displays. I wonder if they knew I have been dreaming of snorkeling in Lombok!
I especially loved this one, by Mr. Setiyono, 36, from Wosobo. He carved
the fishes out of honeydew and cantaloupe, with a background of
cucumber. To see more pictures of the Fruit Carving Competition, you can visit our Facebook page.
Later I spoke with Suripno and Margono, representatives from a village near Solo, who had entered two of their village’s durian into the competition. They were disappointed neither of their durian had placed, and all they got was a certificate. Margono was especially disappointed in the Kleting-Kuning durian, as he said he was sure it was a durian that everyone would love. The judges rejected Kleting because it was too sweet, and lacked the bitter flavor popular among Indonesians.
I said I liked sweet durian just fine, so they gave me one! It’s not quite ready to eat, so we’ll find out if its any good in a few days.
|posing with the losing durian|
Oh and I did get my soundbite from the governor! I had just spoken to the Vice-Minister of Farming, Mr. Rosman Heriawan, when I found myself walking next to the governor. Joko managed to shake his hand and ask my question for me, “What is the cultural importance of durian to the Indonesian people?” Joko looked so nervous and excited he was vibrating!
The governor looked at us out of the corner of his eye, over his huge walrus mustache, and grunted, “Same as what he said.”
So that’s my soundbite from the Governor of Central Java, “Same as what he said.” At least the Vice Minister was very nice, and managed to give a long answer despite being hurried out of the building by his aides.
At the end of the festival, they were still selling baby durian trees. So Joko picked out a baby monthong to bring home and plant in his front yard. Because the tree has been grafted, it will only grow 3-4 meters tall, in contrast to a wild durian’s 20 meter height. The tree-seller, a Mr. Agus, threw in a water guava for free. The trick was getting the baby trees home!
We met a quirky character at the festival, Sapto Argo, who makes his money grafting trees. He also grows durian and avocados. He was at the festival in part to nab some seeds of the winning avocados, which he managed to do while everyone was distracted by the governor and the durian rush. Later some of the festival judges were asking, “Where are the seeds for these avocados?”, which made me, Rob, Joko, and Sapto laugh.
Tomorrow Sapto is taking us on a tour of some durian plantations in his region. I expect it will be an interesting day.