Episode 34: Jeff Keasberry + The Rijsttafel of Indo Dutch Cuisine

Photo credit: Daniel Gundlach for portraits. Jeff Keasberry for food.

On episode 34, we talk to Los Angeles-based food blogger and cookbook author, Jeff Keasberry, about the “rijsttafel”— how it’s integral to the Indo Dutch cuisine, one the world’s oldest fusion cuisines, and why you need to know about it.

We start off by reviewing the best things we ate in the past week. Lynda gives us a sneak peek into next week's episode with her meal at Koptiam while Iris had "soy sauce western" for the first time at Tai Ping Koon.

Iris then gives a quick history of the Indo Dutch connection, explaining how Indonesia was a Dutch colony for almost 150 years, leading to the creation of Indo Dutch cuisine—one of the world's oldest fusion cuisines. 

Lynda then introduces our guest Jeff Keasberry, a Los Angeles-based food blogger and cookbook author whose mission is to get Indo Dutch food the accolades it deserves. His new cookbook is called Indo Dutch Kitchen Secrets, and is the first English language heritage cookbook on this cuisine. Fun fact from Jeff: did you know that the Van Halens are Indo Dutch? 

Jeff tells us about his heritage, why it's important for him to write this book, and how he's continuing his grandmother's legacy. Jeff then elaborates on what is Indo Dutch cuisine, and what makes it slightly different to Indonesian cuisine.  

We focus on one particular aspect of Indo Dutch food—the rijsttafel. Translating to "rice table", this is an elaborate Indonesian meal adapted by the Dutch consisting of an abundance of side dishes served with rice. Jeff explains the history behind the rijstaffel, what sort of dishes you can find at this meal, some of his favorites, and how it's served. Traditionally, affluent Dutch people would serve it at their home to impress their guests, but you can find the experience at Indonesian restaurants worldwide. 

Lynda and Jeff then take a step back and talk about Indonesian cuisine in general and present their theories on why it might not have quite caught on in the US yet. They also talk about the Netherlands/Indonesia/Manhattan connection, thanks to the nutmeg trade. 

We hope you enjoyed this episode and learned as much history as we did. If you want to learn more about Indo Dutch food, make sure to get a copy of Jeff's book. Jeff also spends his time spreading the joy of Indo-Dutch cuisine by giving workshops on both the East and West Coast, so head over to his website and give him a shout! Also, come back to feastmeetswest.com later this week for a special recipe from the book that Jeff has so generously shared with us!