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Kecap Manis: Indonesia's National Condiment

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by Bondan Winarno
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The humble American catsup/ketchup has its linguistic roots in a sweetened soy sauce made for centuries in Indonesia. Award-wnning Indonesian food journalist Bondan Winaro's tribute to the near ubiquitous ingredient brings a historian's curiosity and an investigative reporter's attention to detail to this lushly photographed exploration of the lore, fermentation, sweetening, seasoning, and use of kecap manis.

As he notes, "People in Indonesia are fanatical about the kecap manis they use... 'A War of Kecap Manis' often ensures upon marriages." Accordingly, he profiles fourteen of the most popular brands, most of which are still made by the families that originated them and have intensely local markets. "Mirama is the leading brand in and around the city of Semarang, Central Java. Production is limited and appointed wholesalers are given a meager weekly quota. Most of the time, consumers are rationed only to buy one bottle at a time."

This is an intriguing look at Indonesian food culture and history.

Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.

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