TAKE A VOYAGE TO THE CULINARY

FORTY DELICIOUS YEARS IS THE BEST BOOK ON BALI–TAKE A VOYAGE TO THE CULINARY AND SOCIAL HEART OF THE ISLAND OF THE GODS

By Dr Vivienne Kruger – Published on Amazon.com

Forty Delicious Years is one of the finest books ever produced about the mystical, legendary, god-blessed island of Bali–the sacred, unsullied morning of the world. Bali is a brilliant, bright emerald jewel set in the elongated necklace of 17,000 islands that comprise the brooding, primeval Indonesian archipelago. Anyone who has ever visited my beloved Bali–or is planning a sojourn of personal discovery or food discovery–should bring this book along with them. Forty Delicious Years is an incredibly revealing and intimate masterpiece about Ni Wayan Murni, her gorgeous gorge-side Warung restaurant in Ubud, and the constellation of notable expatriates and international personalities that have made Murni’s Warung their social and culinary home away from home. The tell-almost-all book is filled with the charm and beauty of Murni’s universe, reflected in the anecdotes, accolades, reflections, and stories penned by forty of her often famous, well-known (Mick Jagger) customers and fans. These intensely personal, soul-revealing chapters empower all of us to be expats on Bali for awhile, and experience life as very lucky strangers in an unknown paradise. I lived in Bali for two years, and know first-hand the seductive, permanent pull on the soul by the spiritual, always-god-conscious Balinese and this very fertile, bountiful island sanctuary.

The writing is incredibly alive and spectacular, and is delightfully easy to read and digest. The book takes us into the sanctified world of Balinese cooking, traditional village social life, tinkling gamelan orchestras, and culture–seasoned with Murni’s kindness and career, and deep, longstanding friendships in the community. Situated near the old Dutch suspension bridge in Campuan-Ubud, Murni’s Warung was built from the ground up, and is a legend in its own time. For almost four scrumptious decades, it has been the ultimate place for Ubud expatriates (and tourists alike) to fulfill their most deep-seated Balinese and western dessert fantasies. The stunning, four-level restaurant is carefully decorated with Murni’s exquisite antiques, Balinese stone statuary, Buddha images, and artworks–and enjoys a spellbinding, natural riverside location and view. A visually and spiritually enlightening, five-foot-tall bronze statue of Ganesha the Elephant God symbolically creates prosperity and removes all obstacles in the Lounge Bar of Murni’s Warung. Ordered by Murni as a specially designed commissioned piece in 1997, it took highly esteemed, respected, experienced Balinese artisans-craftsmen five years to complete!

Murni remains an integral part of her village of birth and her island of Bali–and the forty testimonial chapters written by forty different long-time expatriates, visiting Bali scholars, and international adventurers/wayfarers are personal, unique, revealing and priceless. This book is a deep and memorable journey through residence in Bali, religious devotion, ceremonial splendor, and life as an expat (or repeat, Bali-obsessed visitor) eight sacred degrees south of the equator. As a first-hand travel journal collection in its own right, these personal tales of adventure–and longing for the spirituality and benediction of Bali–are amazing. And they all swirl around the wonderful people of Bali, Balinese life, and Murni’s longstanding contributions to and dedication to her community, family, local temples, and the gods. One of the best stories is about a very loyal, Kintamani Bali dog named Dausa–who spent his life lounging on the front steps of Murni’s Warung as Murni’s personal guard dog. He lead a charmed life, and enjoyed such delicious foods as chicken sate sticks and Murni’s highly coveted chocolate chip cookies! A very pampered Balinese dog indeed!

I am an expert on Bali, as well as on traditional Balinese food and food culture, and have complete admiration for this very special new book about one of Bali’s most important and iconic purveyors of Balinese food, art, antiques, and hotel accommodation on the unforgettable island of the gods.

Dr. Vivienne Kruger

Author of Balinese Food: The Traditional Cuisine and Food Culture of Bali. Tuttle Publishing, 2014