Francis Koijic never eats so well as in Indonesia: ‘It makes me happy’

Francis Kuijk op culinaire ontdekkingsreis in Indonesië (privéfoto).

All Holland Bakt star Frances Koijk of Cacheville is on a study trip in Indonesia, which is where her roots lie. In her case, a study trip means plenty of food. In Indonesia, food is basic everywhere, much to her delight: “Indonesian cuisine makes me the happiest.”

Francis was born in the Netherlands and raised in Australia. Her parents are from Indonesia. However, no less than 38 years have passed since she last visited Indonesia. “We were supposed to go in 2020, but Covid has thrown a spanner in the works.”

We chat with her at the end of another long day full of culinary discoveries. They’re in Java, in Yogyakarta: “Now we’re a group of three. We all work with Indian cuisine, and we just talk about food all day.”

“The color, smell and taste of rendang were very different.”

Francis mainly wants to get inspiration: “Taste the difference between the dishes as we know them in the Netherlands and how they are made here. I ate rendang twice: a stew. But if you didn’t tell me in advance, I wouldn’t know. It tasted very different things. The structure was the same of course. But the color And the smell and taste were different.

Frances writes down everything she tastes in a logbook. Helpful for later: “I was only there for a week, but I already wrote down the things I was going to use in the workshop.”

But it’s not just good what it tastes like: “I notice sometimes things are made frugally. I ate something at a restaurant that was directed to us, and it’s from here and I thought this dish was supposed to have jackfruit, but I can’t taste it. Everything is getting more expensive, so I wonder.” On whether that plays a role here as well.”

Is Frances still pleasantly surprised by the things she tastes there? She is hesitant, as she had already expected the flavors to melt her. And one more thing, she said later: “Some things are made here just as they are in Holland. But that’s positive. Because I noticed here that we kept the Indonesian flavors of Holland.”

“Food carts with sweet and savory are really everywhere.”

Indonesia continues to be a great culinary inspiration for Francis. After her adventure with Heel Holland Bakt in 2016, she wrote three books on Indonesian cuisine. According to her, cooking and eating are the “backbone of Indian culture”.

Francis sends a photo of a man in front of a cart: “Meter-long pies on which they sell dishes. Sweet, salty: everything. And they really are everywhere.” She sends a video shot from inside the car, of her running through an endless string of red clothes. scores in a row. Behind each panel is a snack bar, sheltered from the bright sun.

Francis’ new book will be published in october, about sweet and savory snacks in indian cuisine, of course. It’s already over, but she’ll tweak a few things after this trip: “I absolutely fell in love with kue here: an Indian brownie or bun. So simple, yet so incredibly delicious. My heart pounded.”

Frances with her traveling companions Helena Smit (left) and Francesca Tan (centre) (Photo: Frances Kuijc).
Frances with her traveling companions Helena Smit (left) and Francesca Tan (centre) (Photo: Frances Kuijc).

A food cart vendor as you see them on every street in Jogjakarta (Photo: Francis Koijic).
A food cart vendor as you see them on every street in Jogjakarta (Photo: Francis Koijic).

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