“Rebeckah! Over here!” I turned in shock to see my friend Jeffry beckoning to me. He shouldn’t have been there. Jeffry was supposed to be traveling with his family to Jakarta that morning. As he ushered me into his restaurant, Gudeg Yu Nap, I was brought face-to-face with Indonesian hospitality in the form of a table laden with what must have been every dish on Jeffry’s menu. Once assuring that I would be treated to the best service his staff could offer, he left to rejoin his family, and I was faced with the daunting task of eating an entire table of food on my own. I began with a single bite from each plate, but it was the Gudeg that I saved for last and cleaned to the last drop. Gudeg is certainly not the most beautiful or elaborate dish to grace an Indonesian table, but for me it is reminiscent of the tomato sauce my Italian grandmother cooked for over three days, filling it with love and what we’d all have sworn was magic. It’s not just the laborious process, or the spices, or the clay pot, but the care that goes into preparing such a simple dish, weaving art and comfort together with the soul of a people and place. It all begins with a jackfruit, but the first time I saw Gudeg, I could hardly believe the huge, alien-pod-esque fruit was anywhere in the brown glop in front of me. Yet Gudeg, as unassuming as it is in appearance, takes on the spirit and statement of the jackfruit in its individuality. It has a way of becoming the thing you are craving when you’re not sure what it is you want. This realization crept up on me as I continually searched out this dish all over Indonesia. First it was out of curiosity about the variations, but ultimately it became something like a familiar friend who never lets you down. Gudeg embodies Indonesia for me, comforting, sweet, welcoming and full of surprising spirit.