When we were in Bali last April, we signed up for a cooking class that included a morning market visit with Casa Luna in Ubud. Casa Luna is run by Janet de Neefe, an Australian writer and entrepreneur who fell in love with a Balinese man following her second visit to Bali in the early 80s and has since moved there, started a family and launched several business ventures. Alongside Casa Luna, a restaurant and bakery, she also runs a guesthouse (which she also lives in). While for most Australians hers is a household name, we only recently got to know about her through the workshop and the books she’s published that include a beautiful Balinese cookbook.
The morning of the class, we walked over to Casa Luna to meet with the other fellow travellers who had signed up for her class (the majority of which were from Australia and New Zealand, but there was also a nice couple from Mexico on honeymoon and an American family of four). Once everyone had arrived, we all walked over to the market a few blocks away.
The market is open all day and draws in many tourists, but in the morning (before 9am), it is almost exclusively for locals shopping for fresh produce to prepare the day’s meals and selling their goods. Even the products being sold change. In the morning, several stalls were selling flowers, offerings and baskets for canungs (part of a daily Balinese prayer ritual to ward off bad luck), but later in the day, the same vendors were selling souvenirs and kitschy tourist items instead.
You’ll learn a lot of interesting tidbits about Balinese food and local habits from the market tour, such as how to choose a mangosteen (look at the bottom of the fruit: the more slices, the better), what spices to buy and which to avoid (saffron from the market is geared towards tourists and isn’t really good), what kind of peanut sauce to use for your satay (Karansari brand is very tasty and easy to make at home) and the importance of knives in Balinese culture (there are different knives for men and women that each have their own role in daily life and traditions).
It was a very colourful and rich experience walking through the market with our helpful guide. We also got to benefit from the local (aka “non-tourist”) price on the things we bought, which is at least half the cost we would have otherwise had to pay as tourists.
If you have a chance to do the market tour with your cooking class, do not think twice about it – and book in advance!
Address: Jl. Raya Ubud – Bali, Indonesia
Tel: 361 977 409