G E M B L O N G (English Version)

If you have once visited my town , Bogor , West Java in a place called Bogor Permai (Boper) , you might have seen a street vendor carrying a container full of one type of food as showing in the picture . This guy sells one kind of Indonesian tradisional confectionary called as GEMBLONG . This is not actually a typical Sundanese/Bogor culinary . It may come from Central Java considering the sweetness (people from Central Java is known to be fond of sweet taste on their food) . However it is unconfirmed yet as there are many opinions about the origin of this confectionary but at least in Bogor , the writer have found this snack back to 1978-1979 . 

Gemblong is made commonly from glutinous or sticky rice . Combined with other ingredients such as coconut , salt and covered by melted sugar . The process of the making of gemblong is not as simple as its appearance . It has several steps from flushing the glutinous with bolied water , draining and then steaming . As soon as the steamed glutinous lifted from the steamer , it must be mashed and mixed with grated coconut . The next step is to form the dough, usually it is formed like an egg but with flat surface . After that the formed glutinous is fried . The finishing stage is to soak the fried glutinous into the melted sugar (the mixture of cocounut/brown + white sugar) . It takes quite a long process and needs a lot of energy from the beginning until Gemblong is ready to eat . Besides the sticky rice , the rice can be used as a substitution but it gives different taste as Gemblong made from rice is having a bit less savory taste .

The price of Gemblong is not expensive compared to the Bogor Permai Bread (Boper bread is widely known in Bogor as one of the tasteful and delicious bread since at least 1978) . It is only one fourth or one fifth of the bread price . You can get a 'gemblong' for only Rp. 1,500.- (less than 15 cents) . It makes me wondering how much profit does the gemblong vendor get for each . It should be very small .
When a gemblong is bitten , it is a bit crispy caused by the crusted sugar but yet it is also sticky due to the glutinous . You can taste sweet and savory on your tongue at the same time . Be careful for diabetics because I am certain Gemblong contains very high level of sugar content .

Nowadays in Bogor it has been getting difficult to find this confectionary . The impractical process , energy and time spent for a 'gemblong' , it is likely , can not be covered by the profit achieved . Furthermore the looks of 'gemblong' is too simple . It doesn't represent a modern or sophisticated look required to make it being competitive in the current market . The room for innovation is , I believe is quite limited . Only few cake shops in Bogor still put 'gemblong' in their display .

Today , I exchange Rp. 30,000.- with 20 pieces of 'gemblong' . The vendor , a young person (different from the last one I met years ago) gave me a bonus of 2 pieces . Unfortunately the bonuses are not enough as all gemblongs were finished within short time . Now I am lamenting my stupidity to buy only 20 ..Because I can not taste it while typing this posting . I wish the vendor was still there ..

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About Anton Ardyanto

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