THIWUL YU TUM
Food During The Hard Days, Now Favored in Many Ways
Updated on 3/23/2015
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IDR 6,000 - IDR 24,000
06.00 a.m - 20.30 p.m
"people said we live in land of paradise,
wooden stick and rocks turn into plants"
Above is the lyrics of a song entitled "Kolam Susu" (literally translated as "Milk Pond") popularized by Koes Plus; a song which seems to perfectly describe Gunungkidul. Dry hills full of limestones are a common view covering the majority of the area. Still, it doesn't mean that the locals run out of ideas to survive. By planting cassava (Manihot utilissima) on the rocky land, Gunungkidul locals are able of harvesting the plants and processing them into a food known as thiwul. Brought all the way down from Brazil and introduced by the Portuguese to Indonesians back then in the 16th century, cassava has been proven to grow well in Gunungkidul's dry land.
Thiwul used to be the main food for Gunungkidul locals during Japan's colonization-it substituted rice, which were hardly accessible. When eaten, it will expand inside the stomach, making one eating it quickly feel full. It was a good thing, recalling that life was hard during the colonization era.
Today, thiwul is no longer a main food for Gunungkidul locals; its position has shifted into becoming traditional snack. One of the legendary thiwul seller is Tumirah. Yu Tum-that's how she is commonly called-has been selling thiwul for 28 years, since 1985. Began with selling from one village to another, Yu Tum-now reaching her eighties-has now had 3 counters managed by her children-in-law. Her central counter and kitchen is located at Jalan Pramuka no. 36, next to Wonosari's Village Hall. Moving away from its stigma as Japanese colonization food, thiwul has now being favored by tourists visiting Gunungkidul.
Thiwul Yu Tum is special, indeed. It has fine grounded gaplek (dried cassava), which, once cooked well, will taste smooth just like the texture of a bread. Also, Yu Tum adds brown sugar as sweetener, while grated coconut which accompanies it adds more to its taste. What a perfect combination! Thiwul can be eaten as snack, or to substitute rice-by eating it along with sambal (grounded chili and spices) and green chili soup. You can also order for gathot (another kind of processed cassava) and the unique fried grasshoppers menu as alternative options. Yu Tum has it all. Better still, you can also try thiwul in cheese and chocolate flavors-preorder first to have a try on them.
Thiwul is made by drying up cassava's tubers into gaplek (dried cassava), grounding it, and steaming it. Even until now, Yu Tum keeps on cooking thiwul using luweng (traditional hearth for cooking) and firewood, metal crocks, and cone bamboo steamers-characteristics of traditional Javanese kitchen now rarely found. She maintains it to preserve the taste of her thiwul. The cone bamboo steamers are used to mold thiwul in mountain shape. If you desire to take thiwul home as gifts, Yu Tum has also prepared besek (box made of bamboo) to wrap the mountain-shaped thiwul.
Apart from thiwul, Yu Tum also provides other variants of food made of processed cassava, such as gathot, cassava chips, and fried gethuk. You can also buy instant thiwul which you can steam at home yourself. Gunungkidul locals have proven their excellent skill in processing their land's harvest. Though their land is dry and hard to grow plants, they can still make delicious, nutritious foods.
Gunungkidul is definitely a paradise land; even wooden stick and rocks can be made into plants. We suspect that Yok Koeswoyo-the composer of the song "Kolam Susu"-had got his inspiration from Gunungkidul's thiwul.
Text KEN SAVITRIE Photography DANIEL ANTONIUS KRISTANTO Translation WIDIANA MARTININGSIH
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