OSENG-OSENG MERCON BU NARTI
Explosion in The Mouth
Updated on 1/1/2018
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IDR 15,000 / portion
IDR 2,000 - IDR 3,000
05.00 p.m - 11.00 p.m
Tens of people sat on mats spread along the pavement. Their breathed hard, their eyes bugging out. Some were busy wiping the sweat running down their foreheads. They were not doing any sports, however, they're having dinner! Yes, such view was captured at a tent-roof foodstall in Kauman, Yogyakarta. What kind of food it is that makes dinner seems so exhausting?
Such is what we'll likely experience when eating oseng-oseng mercon (literally translated as firecracker soup). Created by Mrs Narti, oseng-oseng mercon has now become a popular culinary of Yogyakarta. Started to run the foodstall in 1998, during when the country was experiencing economic crisis, Mrs Narti was trying to earn for her living after her husband passed away. Today, the culinary has been renowned to even outer cities, attracting passersby to give it a try.
It is not for no reason that the culinary is named mercon or firecracker. Eating the food will feel as if the packed ammunition commonly used during Chinese New Year and Eid al-Fitr celebration explodes inside our mouth. Just like fearless soldiers delivering bombs to the enemy's fort, Mrs Narti's oseng-oseng will destroy you into pieces. Your eyes will bug out, your breath becomes hard and your tongue turns hot until you get yourself sweating heavily.
Straightly saying, the physical appearance of the food offers no particular attraction warm rice accompanied by simple-cooked oseng-oseng (plain soup with less sauce) comprises of kikil (fatty meat inside the feet of a cow or goat), fat, skin, and cartilage. Jogjanese call them koyoran. The soup appears highly fatty, immersed in lots of cayenne chili whose seeds stick to the meats somewhat horrible. If you leave the food even if only for several minutes, it will quickly harden as if frozen, which shows that the food contains high fat. Hence, you will need to eat it quickly. On the other hand, the heat from the rice will help slow the fat from freezing, while you yourself will find out that it is quite impossible to eat slowly since you will just be too eager to taste the next explosions. Whenever you feel that the hot spicy food has beaten you too hard, you can order other menus such as chicken, quail, or catfish to help your tongue to recover. YogYES called such experience kapok lombok (beaten off by chili) running out of breath for the hot chili, but just couldn't stop eating. Surely, we wanted to come back again tomorrow and having another firecracker explodes in our mouth.
According to Mrs Narti, the owner of the foodstall, the name mercon was given by humanist figure Cak Nun, who often visits the foodstall along with his wife or his fellow humanists. Being extraordinarily hot in taste, other names have also been given for the food, such as bledeg (Javanese word for thunder) or lightning. If you want to know how it would feel to be struck by lightning, just come over on weekend, since every Saturday night, Mrs Narti will increase the chili composition to several folds. During weekdays, she commonly mix 50 kg of koyoran with 6 kg of chili; on weekend, the chili ingredient will be of greater amount. How much? Mrs Narti just won't let us know, but it surely will be far hotter. Now, though it is not rainy season, you can get yourself prepared to be struck by the lightning sent by Mrs Narti.
Text KEN SAVITRIE Photography DANIEL ANTONIUS KRISTANTO Translation WIDIANA MARTININGSIH
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