Those Muslims who are able to safely do so are required to fast during the month of Ramadan between sunup and sundown. Ideally, not even a sip of water once the sun rises, until the sun sets. This means mealtime is a big deal when it gets dark. Traditions of gathering as families and neighbors to break their daily fast together mean an opportunity for restaurants to market food deals for such gatherings. Today, faced with an empty refrigerator we decided to bring home lunch while also grocery shopping for tomorrow. I was tasked with getting food for lunch while others handled the grocery shopping.
Enter Pizza Hut’s Ramadan Special.
This is a 3-box special, of which I really only felt somewhat confident about two of the three boxes. In other words, there were two pizzas included – this I understood. The third box contained a collection of various other items. What were they? I decided we would find out together when we got home! We were celebrating as we had all survived (barely) a quiz on 60-some verbs. Additionally, the kids didn’t have homework tonight – a rare treat as their teacher keeps them quite busy!
Ordering was, typically with my limited bahasa Indonesia knowledge, challenging. Fortunately the cashier spoke a bit of English and between the two of us we got things figured out. One pizza I could choose – and I opted for a pepperoni. The other pizza was not changeable and was called their Nusantara pizza. Nusantara is a word with a long history in Indonesia and is often a collective term for all or most of the islands that incorporate the archipelago as we know it today. What does this mean in terms of a pizza? I had no idea but decided it was high time to find out. The cashier let me know that chicken was part of it somehow. Interesting.
I felt awkward carrying this in our ride back to our apartment. After all, odds were good the driver was Muslim and here I was bringing a box of pizzas into his car. He was at the very least gracious about it and didn’t say anything. Here the rule of thumb is to not go out of your way to flaunt food and beverages in public areas during the daylight hours of Ramadan. I hope that keeping everything firmly boxed and bagged up was respectful enough.
We got the large box home and opened it up. Indeed, a pepperoni pizza and the aforementioned Nusantara pizza were in two of the three boxes. The Nusantara pizza did include chunks of chicken, as well as pieces of potato and red pepper. All in all very tasty, though we agreed the addition of potatoes was at the very least unconventional to our American understandings of pizza.
The third box was indeed a cornucopia of culinary explorations. There were two large trays – one of a meat bolognese sort of spaghetti affair, and the other the near-mandatory serving of rice with some chicken over it and some sauces. There was a section for some chicken tender bits which were quite tasty. There were two small cups of a variation on Southeast Asian deserts, this one including sweet red rice and other ingredients we weren’t entirely sure of. Two small brownies and a small loaf of garlic bread rounded out the offerings. Oh, and there were also four Coca Colas included. The sauce packets you see are ubiquitous with any food ordering – the Indonesian equivalent of ketchup packets, except they’re sambal packets. Sambal is a generic term for a near-infinite array of sauces of varying degrees of spiciness. They come with everything. These pre-packaged affairs are one example – other places include small baggies of their house-blend sambal. We’ve learned to be careful as they can be very spicy, but in general I love them and the rest of the family is getting more acclimated to spicy food every day.
We agree that Pizza Hut thus far offers the closest thing to American-style pizza that we’ve found thus far in Medan, though we’re by no means ending the hunt. Thus sustained we were able to enjoy a somewhat relaxed afternoon that included studying as well as an eventual foray out to find unsuspecting Indonesians to practice our bahasa Indonesia with. We’re grateful they are so gracious and we had several more-or-less willing victims.