Naughty Nuri’s: Anyone for a Body Scrub and Cleanse?

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Naughty Nuri’s is well-known in Ubud for its barbecued pork ribs. Always packed, most people who eat in this popular restaurant are not part of Ubud’s thriving spiritual community. Those folks go to the organic, vegan, and raw food places where to even whisper pork is anathema!

I gave up most meat long ago so I’d never been to Nuri’s. But after living in Indonesia for five years and eating fruit, veggies, rice, tofu, tempe, and not much else, about two months ago I began to crave nachos.

I coerced my partner in crime and chief confidante into weekly walks to Devilicious, a street-side eatery near her house where they make a few Mexican dishes. Nachos is one of them. An ice cold beer with a heaping plate of crisp, cheese-and-jalepeno covered tortilla chips became a weekly ritual, until last Sunday. We approached the sign with a red devil caricature boldly displayed and my heart sank. Devilicious was closed.

There’s nothing worse than having your taste buds set for a certain flavor and being denied that pleasure. We stood outside the empty café and I was less than cavalier. “I want nachos. Where can we get nachos?” I’m sure my whine was about as pleasant as a spoiled 5-year-old’s.

Without missing a beat my friend said, “Nacho Mama’s has them.”

“Nacho Mama’s? Why haven’t you mentioned this place before? Where is it?” As it turned out it was just a few blocks the opposite direction so we set off, saliva flooding my mouth.

I smelled barbecue long before we arrived at the entrance to Naughty Nuri’s and my friend stopped there.

“This isn’t Nacho Mama’s, it’s Naughty Nuri’s. They sell ribs, not nachos. Look at the sign.” Had she lost her mind? She knows I’m a closet vegetarian and although I may not be the brightest bulb, I can read!

“Relax already. This is the place. It used to be called Nacho Mama’s. They serve nachos, don’t worry.”

Skeptical, I followed her inside looking for an empty table. There were none but a lone man occupied a spot with seating for 8 so we parked ourselves at the far end. We’d been there a few minutes when a group got up and vacated a nearby booth. We grabbed it. The table was loaded with platters of gnawed rib bones and bowls still full of Nuri’s special sauce.

One of the wait staff began to bus the table. My accomplice and I were deep in conversation when the tray the girl had just loaded crashed to the floor. Something globby and wet splattered my hair, my face, arms, legs, and my favorite cream-colored skirt. A spoon still dripping with the stuff lodged under my thigh. Dazed, I saw that my entire right side was plastered with rich, red, oily, lumpy blobs of barbecue sauce.

For a split-second there was silence. Nobody breathed. In the next instant, the entire Nuri’s staff rushed to my aid. One dabbed my hair, another scrubbed at my clothes, grinding the stains deeper into the fabric. The skin on my face where barbecue had landed, burned from the chilies abundant in Nuri’s special recipe. No matter how they tried to swab me down with paper napkins the situation worsened.

Perhaps it was Isnuri herself, the Indonesian wife of the American owner, who finally took charge and hauled me to the sink at the rear of the restaurant still in plain view of all the diners. Scrubbing commenced in earnest. She grabbed my skirt, hoisted it high and pulled it into the sink so she could hose off the mess (which, by the way, is the consistency of chunky salsa but stickier.) How much of my white leg and Victoria’s Secrets were exposed I’m not sure. It was about then that I decided to take the matter into my own hands and shooed the hovering attendants away.

At some point in my energetic scouring, a flash of movement caught my eye. Off to one side, a Japanese man stood mopping at his cream trousers. I looked at him, he looked at me, and I recognized him as the person who had been sitting with his back to me in the next booth. Not a word passed between us but we simultaneously broke into uproarious laughter. It was the first time I’d realized that I wasn’t the only star in this drama!

When I returned to our table, soaking wet from hair to sandal on my right side, the surroundings would suggest that nothing untoward had occurred there. All was wiped clean. We ordered nachos and beer and rehashed the blow-by-blow account of what had just happened. The food came followed by the bill. My meal hadn’t been charged.

Out on the sidewalk I said goodbye to my friend. Before leaving we agreed that Devilicious still makes the best nachos in Ubud but Nuri’s can’t be beat for barbecue sauce! I walked home in the 88 degree heat, damp and comfortable in my ruined clothing.

After treating the skirt and blouse with Balinese bleach paste and soaking everything for several hours, miraculously the stains came out. Those areas are a little whiter than the rest but I can still wear the outfit. When I do, it will remind me that anything can happen on a beautiful Bali Sunday afternoon nacho run!

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The Last Supper

My last Sunday Night BBQ in California is a hedonistic, humanistic extravaganza. But you’d never know it to look at the civilized table.

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I’m hanging with a heady crowd. These people have multiple degrees, speak too many languages, and love to party. Hanna’s from Taiwan. She owns a tech company and solves computer glitches.

She arrives an hour early, laden with vegetables and protein.  Her chicken, pork, and salmon have marinated in exciting sauces overnight. The prawns bask in a mixture heavy with orange zest. Exquisite! She preps the grill, issues orders to her sous chefs, (we know our place), and Sunday Night BBQ is underway!

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Hanna’s a wizard with vegetables. Corn husks are peeled back and the ears smeared with a pesto garlic butter. Husks replaced, they’re secured in foil, and, excuse me while I wipe the drool off my chin! Then she slices tomatoes in half, scores the tops, and presses a wicked mixture into them that, once grilled, turns an ordinary tomato into a sophisticated to-maah-to, daaahling!

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I’ve had her grilled artichokes, parsnips, potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, and pineapple, I think!

The fact that I don’t know for sure about the pineapple is Melody’s fault. Alcohol is Mel’s domain. If I never have another drink it’s okay. I’ve exceeded my lifetime quota in just two months here. Tonight it’s an exotic frozen daiquiri, with lethal amounts of rum, served with the appetizers.

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While waiting for the food to cook, the back porch conversation sizzles hot and steamy. Topics range from Syria, Fukushima, and the mysterious herbs used in Ethiopian cooking, to ethnic sensitivities, among other things, which makes total sense in a gathering where none of us are of the same people group.

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Later in the evening, Annette, Melody, and Devon break into a tirade of French. Then it’s Spanish…Annette may have Ecuadorian roots, but we were well into the wine by then so maybe it was Peruvian, or Brazilian…anyway, she speaks Spanish really, really well.

And remember Aaron?

P1040631He’s the musician who lives in the little house in the back yard. His band plays all over the world, including Bali. After the babbling in French and Spanish, during which Aaron, Hanna and I, make inappropriate comments whenever it seems appropriate, Aaron disappears. In moments he’s back with an assortment of percussive instruments. He takes the lead, establishes a rhythm, and we rock the house.

Music is the universal language. Shaking my maracas in syncopated bliss, I scan the faces around me, radiant, smiling. Our bodies move to the beat. Then we’re singing, Don’t worry…about a thing…’cause every little thing…gonna be alright… we veer off, adlibbing new words, whatever comes to mind. We rap, reggae, and revel in the camaraderie.

How did I get so lucky? Melody and her house was a Craigslist find, a place to touch down for two months while I tend to the minutia of wedding preparations. I expected nothing more. What I got was a home with a heart, a place in a vibrant community, help with wedding projects, and a steady stream of amazing characters, many of whom will be friends for life. What is this magic bubble I’m traveling in where everything I touch turns to love?

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