Monday, June 16, 2014

Kerak telor, the traditional Betawi favorite

Kerak telor, the traditional Betawi (indigenous Jakartan) omelette with rice, remains the food most sought after by visitors to the Jakarta Fair 2014 in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.

Dody Prabowo, a visitor from Bekasi in West Java, said that he and his wife were regular visitors to the city’s annual event and they always purchased kerak telor every time they got there. According to him, anyone who visited the Jakarta Fair should taste this traditional dish.

“Kerak telor is one of the icons of the Jakarta Fair. You cannot separate the two,” he told The Jakarta Post recently.

The Jakarta Fair opened on June 6 as a part of the celebration of Jakarta’s 487th anniversary and will remain open to the public for 30 days until July 6. The fair has more than 1,000 booths, including 60 run by kerak telor vendors.

One such vendor, Bambang Setiawan, said that visitors to the Jakarta Fair were always looking for kerak telor even though there were a lot of modern foods sold there. 

“On a very busy day I can serve more than 150 customers,” he said, adding that this year he hired people to do the cooking to help the business run more efficiently.

However, he said he deplored the recent policy imposed by PT Jakarta International Expo, the event organizer, which forced down the average price for kerak telor to Rp 15,000 (US$1.27) per plate. 

According to him, the new price reduced their profits.

“I know the committee has reduced our rent from Rp 12 million to Rp 6 million per month. But we still will not earn as much profit as last year,” he said.

Kerak telor has long been a favorite at the Jakarta Fair, especially when it was held at the National Monument (Monas) in the past. 

Jakarta acting governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahja Purnama had criticized the fact that vendors at the annual fair had been charging as much as Rp 30,000 per plate of the traditional dish. He urged the Jakarta Fair’s organizer to set a maximum price for the food, which was then set at Rp 15,000 per serving.

Bambang said that last year he had set different prices for kerak telor depending on what kind of eggs were used. He charged Rp 30,000 for kerak telor with duck eggs and Rp 25,000 with chicken eggs. He said that this year his daily gross profits only amounted to Rp 1.5 million, while last year he brought home up to Rp 4 million on a busy day.

Ahmad Zaki, another vendor, said it was wrong for the organizers to reduce the price of the dish. For him, the change that should have been made was a reduction in the entry fee of the fair to attract more visitors.

“If they want to provide a more popular fair, they should reduce the admission price that costs Rp 30,000 at the weekend. The food prices are not that expensive here,” he said.

However, Gustian, a visitor from Pasar Baru in Central Jakarta, did not share Ahmad’s views. He felt the prices of food and beverages would be rather steep for some people.

He said that his wife brought food from home instead of purchasing it at the fair to save some money.
“You can just imagine, I spent Rp 210,000 just for admission for seven of us. Not to mention the parking charges. I can’t afford to spend more for food,” he said as his seven-year-old son ate a plate of homemade rice and eggs besides him. (Jakarta Post)

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