YOGYAKARTA, KOMPAS.com - The dreadful behavior of foreign tourists in Indonesia, particularly on the resort island of Bali, might have caught the attention of the country's netizens for years.
But one Dutch woman set out to break the unfortunate mold of misbehavior, which ranged from drug smuggling to disrespecting local customs.
Yogyakarta resident Charlotte Peeters reached out to locals by selling her take on Indonesian food, namely Mi Ayam or Indonesian chicken noodles, at her outlet Bakso Mi Ayam Telolet. "We named the place after my husband and my favorite Indonesian dishes," she said.
"He likes bakso [meatballs] while I like Mi Ayam, so we named the shop after both dishes. We first considered naming the place Mi Ayam Amsterdam, to indicate that a Dutch woman is making the noodles, but chose to go with Telolet, as the name is funny and catchy."
Located in Yogyakarta's Sleman district, the 37-year old and her husband Arya Andika Widyadana opened up the noodle shop on August 17, 2020 at the site of a former garage.
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Opening her business in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the couple drew customers with a mix of bargain prices and quirky charm.
"We started off by selling [the Mi Ayam] for Rp. 5000 [$0.36] a serving, before we raised the price to Rp. 7000 [$0.50]. The idea was to open an affordable place where everyone can eat, especially as prices keep going up because of the coronavirus," she added.
A slight twist
"Even though I love chicken noodles, I prefer them to be savory instead of sweet like those served in Yogyakarta. In fact I do not particularly like them sweet," she added. "The chicken noodles are more savory, in line with Dutch tastes, than those served in Yogyakarta.
Like her compatriots, the 37-year old Peeters is familiar with Mi Ayam, as it has become a popular dish in the Netherlands along with Nasi Goreng [Fried Rice] and Bakmi noodles. But her connections with the dish go deeper.
"I actually have Indonesian descent, as my grandmother is from Lampung. While my grandfather is entirely Dutch, he was born in Sorong, [West Papua]," she noted.
The partial lockdown, or locally known as Limited Restriction of Community Activities (PSTKM), in Sleman has caused a decrease in buyers.
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A viral 15 minutes of fame
But this did not stop Charlotte and Arya from running their business until the shop earned went viral. Its viral fame was all the Mi Ayam Bakso Telolet needed to draw more buyers.
Peeters is known for her vibrant aura when peddling her food. Many viral videos showed her doing little dances while serving noodles and wiping the tables.
Perhaps the most delightful sight are those of diners who were pleasantly surprised to realize their food, which was noted for its savory, chewy and good noodle texture, was cooked and served by a foreigner.
While Peeters was happy to see that Mi Ayam Bakso Telolet thrive in cyberspace and the real world, she added that she still have a long way to go.
“I am still learning [to cook chicken noodles]. I often revise and improve the recipe as I often think there's room for improvement," Charlotte said. However, she asserted that it won't stop Mi Ayam Telolet from getting by and contributing to the community.
(Writer: Yogyakarta Contributor, Wijaya Kusuma | Editor: Khairina)
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