Sunday 28 February 2021

The Covid Perspective

When covid whacked the world last year, everyone was affected and everyone saw things curiously different. It is difficult to judge those who locked themselves in a bunker or criticize those wandering around mask-free desperately clinging to life as normal. Everybody had a perspective, and it is only when you understand someone’s beliefs, lifestyle and culture that you begin to see a new point of view. While hysteria and misery ooze from TV and social media, the world’s cities have lost their buzz and those picture-perfect holiday towns are left deserted and no longer scooping ice creams on cones. As far as how to react in this new fanatical, germ-free, hand washing obsessed ultra-sanitized world, well…perspective is everything.

Covid hits everyone dramatically and very differently. With lockdowns, school closures and physical distancing, kids are growing up missing the opportunity to develop social skills. Students in their final years lose the gatherings and celebrations that cement the year’s academic successes. Athletes no longer have competition and must train from home with no medals to be gained. Those in hospitality like us are simply left scratching their heads waiting for guests to return and meanwhile pivot to home delivery, which barely covers costs but somehow gives comfort within its mindless repetition. Those in the later years of life are retired and avoid the drama of frozen income with pensions flush, but sit dishearteningly within the category of high risk as their homes become confinement. Everyone has their story to tell and everyone is affected, although it is when we noticed the unusual way the Balinese dealt with Covid that we understood exactly what makes them so remarkably special.

As the material world shows its cracks and people everywhere look to find strength in timeless core values like family, friendship and compassion, we all see now how we have prioritized financial gain over happiness, success over health and career over family, but not the Balinese. This pandemic has taken away, as it has for many, their income, their jobs, their careers and their fancy mobile phone plans, and left them with nothing but themselves. Now…there lies the big difference: the Balinese are intrinsically joyful people, they only need themselves, their family and friends for happiness and it has always been like this. Covid has only had a material impact in their lives, but their core values and support system have not been affected. They look at us with pity and a sympathetic smile as we stress out trying to find meaning in our now empty days. The basic pleasures of life are easily found and somehow globally so easily misplaced for the rest of us mere mortals...

So as the world is still figuring out what to do, the Balinese have long ago started to heal! Hopefully the rest of us will eventually also learn to appreciate those special little magical moments every single day has to offer but we miss while being too busy looking the other way.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Cooking without recipes (by Chef Kevin Cherkas)

Cooking is tough. Not because transforming ingredients into food is difficult but getting them to taste delicious… is. Any idiot can put a piece of meat on a BBQ and burn it on both sides, but what the hell to serve it with? There lies the challenge. That’s where the skill of cooking begins, in the delicate balancing of flavours and contrasting of textures. That’s where delicious hides, and it's always tough to find. 

The solution to many has either been to stick to what you have always made or be guided by the classic cookbooks that always deliver. The results unfortunately always end with eating the same old thing until, eventually, you end up in a restaurant where flavours explode….but why? What do restaurants know that you don’t? How do they take the exact same ingredients and make wonderful what at home you make worrying?

The solution is more simple than you may think. It’s like, as a child, the training wheels you use to learn to ride a bike or the lines you stay between in a colouring book to end up with a picture. No one is giving a child a blank piece of paper and expecting good results, but that’s what we are doing with cooking, giving you ingredients without the lines and, as you can see, we are not ending up with a picture but a fricken mess.

The good news is I can teach you those tools. I can show you how to create rather than copy, how to craft the tastiest dishes without being dependent on recipes, a valuable skill and one you can use for every meal, for the rest of your life. One hour to begin to understand the mistakes you are making and the solution to delicious. It is free and just a click away!

Monday 29 June 2020

Turn up the heat

Arguably, there is one ingredient that separates the flavours of South East Asia from those of the western world: chilli. Being located in tropical Bali and well known for our passion of local produce, chili is indeed very close to Cuca’s heart, and to our kitchen! The challenge of working with chilli is getting the spice level just right, when, as anyone who has ever eaten a really hot chilli will testify, it can cause a lot of pain.

Chillies come in many shapes, colours, sizes and strengths, but one thing they all have in common is the burning sensation they cause in your mouth, eyes and any other part of your body they happen to get a hold of. Although most people think that the hottest part of a chilli is its seeds, in fact it is the white spongy layer you find inside, called the “placenta”. Bite into this and you will really feel the burn! That sensation is mainly caused by a chemical called “capsaicin”. When you eat a chilli, the capsaicin in its placenta is released into your saliva and reaches the heat receptors in your mouth and tongue, which in turn send a signal to your brain, fooling it into thinking that your mouth is literally burning.

Producing capsaicin was originally the ideal way for wild chilli plants to deter mammals (who have heat receptors in their mouths) from eating them while encouraging birds to do so (as they lack those receptors that detect capsaicin). But then along came the first chilli aficionado… someone who realized that beyond the pain, eating chillis triggered the release of endorphins, otherwise known as “happy” chemicals, that give you an instant head-to-toe feeling of pleasure.

And as you know, your happiness is our main concern so we in Cuca felt that it was our duty to satisfy the many spicy food enthusiasts that come our way, and with that mission in mind and after many months of failure, pain, disaster and uncertainty, this is what we came up with. 

We proudly present to you Cuca’s latest and most delicious adventure: Cuca Hot Sauce

Handcrafted in small batches, it combines a masterful blend of fresh home-grown chillies and carefully selected spices that definitely pack a punch while still delivering on vibrant and intense taste. Distinctively, Cuca’s Hot Sauce is slowly fermented for weeks, just like in the good old days, rich in probiotic bacteria and ideal to improve the health of the digestive and immune systems. The final step of blending it smooth and charcoal-smoking it results in a mouth-watering BBQ perfume and a bold, flavourful and opinionated recipe not for the weak. 

Cuca Hot Sauce pairs well with just about everything. It can be used to add depth during cooking or to splash a little, or a lot, on any dish. 

IDR 75,000/bottle. WhatsApp orders: