Before Commodities

Echoes of an economy of the gift…

When I was six, my grandmother also took me with her to the newly harvested rice fields to take part in the open-air feast that fulfilled so many functions, practical and symbolic. It rewarded all the neighbours who had helped to cut, thresh and bring in the rice, for everything had to be done by hand. It “paid off” her debts of hospitality to people who had invited members of our family to their celebrations. For poorer families, not only was it a treat that provided nourishment for those who came to the feast, but it fed those left at home as well: more food was provided than the guests could possibly eat, and everyone was expected to take away a share of the unserved dishes for those who were unable to work in the harvest. This was not charity, but a reward for what the grandparents had done, and what the children would one day do, to carry on the life of the community. In a more prosaic way, the feast was a contest among the neighbourhood wives, each determined to show off her cooking skills and, if possible, those of her marriageable daughters.

Sri Owen. The Indonesian Kitchen

And so for day 2154

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