Untere Weiden Strassenfest

This post is not really about gluten-free food, it’s more about memories and about coming full circle.

I play in a gamelan group in Munich. Most people don’t know what that is. Gamelan is not just music, it’s also the instruments that you use to make the music, it’s a mostly percussionist ensemble. Those who have been to Bali or Java might be familiar with the sounds.

One of the funny things about this group is that we get to play in the Muenchner Stadtmuseum. Every Tuesdays from 5:45 to 8 pm, we sit on the fourth floor amidst the display, and play. Always interesting are the people who take part. They come from all over and are of all types. We have a Greek, an American, some Indonesians and many Germans. Lately we’ve had a number of new joiners, one of them being Sebastian. He runs a cooking studio in the Untere Weiden Strasse in Untergiesing. A few weeks ago he informed us that there would be a fest on July 27th on the street where his studio is located. He was planning to set up a warung – which is like a cafe – and sell Indonesian food.

Now unless I’m at home in Jakarta, I never eat Indonesian food, cause I never cook it. Because of all the spices and how you prepare the dishes, it’s often a lot of work. So when I heard warung + food, I was all excited. Then Sebastian said that they were making Nasi Kuning (yellow rice), and I was all over that! When we were living in Jakarta and in LA, whenever it was my birthday I would ask my mother to order Nasi Kuning for the family party. Lots of fond food memories there.

However, we weren’t actually going to the warung because Saturday was one of those days when all events collide. With hardly a break in between, we went from a brunch celebration with the family, to coffee and tea with old friends, to a 40th birthday party. Which in the end we didn’t make, because through a series of random factors, we couldn’t find the address or the mobile number. We drove all around the neigborhood but could not, for the life of us, find the party.

So all ready and nowhere to go, I said, why don’t we go to the fest in Untergiesing. Hubby said, where is it? Untere Weiden Strasse. Untere Weiden Strasse is a small street located in what used to be a blue-collar area of Munich. You see it in some of the bars that are in and around the area. It’s gotten somewhat hip, but the neighbourhood still has a lot of charm, with tiny houses sandwiched in among apartment buildings, and for now at least, not much of the Munich shicky-micky scene in sight.

When we arrived, we found a lovely, down-to-earth fest with children and music playing, with beer benches, and lots of people and eating and drinking.

Untere Weiden Street Fest

At the studio/warung, Sebastian engaged Nani, who also runs a Balinese/Ayurveda massage parlor in Deining, to help coordinate in the back, while he stood outside and served to a long line of people.
Sebastian in front of Hudoki

The €6 dish, which I was way too eager to get, consisted of a large scoop of nasi kuning, a couple of chicken wings / legs marinated in sweet soy sauce, peanut sauce, cucumber, chilies, boiled egg and roasted shallots. I didn’t take a photo because the container it was served in was not gluten-free and though I’m not really so sensitive, I know others are. It was delicious, very authentic. I could’ve had two.

Another group down the street sold grilled fish, which we didn’t try, because we didn’t come all the way to Untergiesing to eat fish. But they looked gluten-free, and good!

grilled fish

Afterwards hubby and I walked around a little bit, found an ice-cream parlor, where he had a couple of scoops, and then headed home. That evening, both he and I walked down memory lane. Though it was the same lane, we had very different memories.

You see the guy whose birthday we missed is an old friend of muggle, whom he met in New York 16 years ago. They’ve been out of touch lately, and he was hoping to reconnect. Just being in their neighborhood trying to locate their party brought back old times, as did walking around Untergiesing. For hubby, Untere Weiden Strasse is also laden with memories. His ex had an apartment there, and he also lived in and loved that part of Munich during some very formative years.

For me, everytime I eat Indonesian food, I think of home. The Jakarta that I loved and miss, without crazy traffic jams and still full of becaks (Indonesian bicycle taxis), a Jakarta that no longer exits. If I can’t live there, I want to bring Indonesia closer to Germany. Together with an Indonesian group, I once organized a theme night with food, and photography, a bit of karaoke and some dancing. And these days, with my food obsession at its peak, I dream of doing an event with Indonesian music, gamelan among them, and of course, authentic Indonesian cooking. When I saw the fest and Sebastian’s cooking studio, I thought “hey, here’s someone doing something I want to do, and it’s working!”

At this street fest, muggle’s old life and my new life intertwined. Never did he dream that he would be eating Indonesian food at Untere Weiden Strasse, said hubby. Never in my life did I dream that one day, I would be sitting on a bench at a street party in Germany, chomping on nasi kuning prepared by a guy from a gamelan group in which I also play. Who knew?


ps: In doing research for links to Hudoki and the street fest, I discovered that Sebastian is known in the German food publishing world. He’s the author of the Basic Cookbook series and has a couple of blogs of his own – one of them being Rettet das Mittagessen (in English – “Save lunch!). Who knew?

Thanks Sebastian! for the memories, and for letting me include you in this entry.


2 thoughts on “Untere Weiden Strassenfest

  1. Hey, what a wonderful story you have told here. This is the greatest reward for cooking if it brings together people in new situations having precious memories. Terima kasih for that!

    I would have liked to see the Jakarta you remember, no traffic jams and scooter attacks but bycicle taxis. Because I have been for three weeks to your city in the beginning of the year – and I loved every day in this very vital and relaxed city with wonders at every corner if you take the time to look at it. And in a traffic jam you have time, haha!

    The few occasions I had the chance to take a walk (I stayed at a family home where walking out especially for a buleh(?) gave them a thrill I didn’t want) it was even more intense. So I really would have liked to see it in former times. Maybe a straßenfest could be a way for one day 😉

    In he Java days I had the idea to make a warung at our fest we already planned, and meeting Nina on the Indonesian Day filled the missing link. I cooked it all along her advice and recipes, and hopefully you tried the rice she brought with her later because it was much better than mine. Anyway it was very fullfilling to see how joyfull the people here accepted the warung idea and our food.

    So your idea sounds great. If you want support, I am there.

  2. Hi Sebastian,

    Thank you for your comment! It’s fantastic to know a cook and a foodie so enthusiastic about my hometown and the food.

    The idea of an event has been swirling around in my head for years, and your support is more than welcome! We should put our heads together and see what we can come up with. 🙂

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