gennaio 31, 2008

Patrick Perez in love with his host country

The Jakarta Post
February 03, 2008

Patrick Perez in love with his host country

Gama Harjono, Contributor, Jakarta

He emanates an air of humility and claims to be shy. But a chat with French culture envoy Patrick Perez is as enjoyable as a stroll through Paris.

With over twenty years' experience in promoting the French language and culture overseas, the director of Centre Culturel Fran‡ais in Jakarta beamed with pleasure as he confessed his love for Indonesia.

He was the one who chose Indonesia, a long way from his home, the quaint town of Cambrai in the north of France. Deliberate and prepared, the size of Indonesia's capital nevertheless caught him by surprise upon his arrival in September 2006.

"I start my working day by arriving at my office at eight and leave late," and he added how he found it easy to work with his professional team in Jakarta. "I had to train a lot my personnel when I led the Alliance Fran‡aise in Pakistan."

Asked to complete a Proust Questionnaire, Perez proved his appreciation for equality. "I prefer that my staff and I address one another with tu," he said he did not like to use the formal French pronoun of vous.

And he added the quality he looked for in others was frankness. On the questionnaire he scribbled "being frank and sometimes not knowing how to lie" -- as his weaknesses.

Questioned on the "rivalry" between cultural institutes in Indonesia, Perez said he preferred collaboration to competition. "We sometimes work with the other European institutes. These collaborations are important."

"Yes, it's important to get to know the locals through mastering their language." And that's why he takes an Indonesian lesson once a week. "And anyway you'll have to communicate in Bahasa once you're on the street."

Regarding his shyness he said, "particularly when I see a group of Indonesians at a function, I want to come up to talk to them but I don't know if I should disturb them or not".
Indonesia has taught him a few things, he admitted.

"I have learned to smile a lot and to say hello to everyone. I feel that when Indonesians smile and greet me, it's usually done with sincerity."

Promoting his country's language and culture is his lifelong occupation. "The main audience for CCF (the Centre) is those between the age of 20 and 30, but I try to get everybody in," explained Perez. "And that's why we diversify our events."

With the aim of reaching as many Indonesians as possible, Patrick Perez prioritizes Indonesians in the arts. He tries to always vary his programs, whether photography exhibitions, pantomimes, and even the occasional circus.

And the rock music-lover doesn't hesitate to go the extra mile. "I thought, where do we find Indonesians? So we organized a musical event at a shopping centre and recently a contemporary dance show at Taman Menteng in Central Jakarta."

Another practical approach employed by the genial Perez is extending the opening hours of the library and mediath‚que at the Centre. The 4000 plus members can now reserve items for loan on the Internet, then pick them up later.

CCF French language courses have also proved popular. The Salemba campus alone engages tens of teachers, offering regular, intensive and specialized classes seven days a week.
Patrick Perez remained calm about a "hot issue" that is on many French lips -- if not heads: the headscarf, banned by the secular country's state schools and government offices.
But Perez explained that the policy was not, in fact, a ban on the headscarf. "It's not just Muslims. The ban applies to all types of religious symbols.

"I respect people regardless of their religion. Ten percent of France's roughly 60 million inhabitants are Muslim. This is the reality in France," he said.

During the fasting month of Ramadhan, the Centre screens French movies about Islam in francophone countries.

About the banlieau riots in Paris, he said, "Just like any other country, France has its share of social problems. And unfortunately its pretty tough for some French youth right now."

The 42-year-old says he reads the Koran. He began his career as a French language teacher while serving his military in Syria. He says he's not an expert on Islam, but his CV shows more than 20 years of ministerial postings in countries with largely Muslim populations.

For Perez, passion means politics and the Middle East. Peace in the region where the world's most influential religions meet is his dream. He paused for a second before continuing, "I have two adopted children in Lebanon, one Muslim and the other Christian."
"One of them lives in a conflict area and I am very worried. I hope everything will be fine". The other child is living in Venezuela.

Perez said he found Muslims in Indonesia open and tolerant compared to the Middle East. He has explored Java and Sulawesi knowledgeable about local customs. He also admits -- like so many others -- that he adores the "island of gods", Bali.

Given his popularity in the capital and environs he said he was sometimes recognized in public, "Sometimes even in Bali people come up and say hello." He prefers mixing with locals to attaching himself to Jakarta's European communities. "I like to talk and have discussions with Indonesians, that's what I am here for. I have a three-year term in Indonesia and may extend it for an extra year."

Asked where he would like to live if he could chose any country he readily responded "France and Indonesia".

Twenty years ago Perez left France to discover new cultures and he is still pursuing them. On Sundays the humble director explores the capital by motorbike. You might just run into him at Monas national monument playing soccer with the locals.


gennaio 26, 2008

Lion Air memenetrasi langit Australia

Beginilah reaksi dan ilustrasi media Australia akan masuknya Lion Air Indonesia ke industri aviasi lokal di negeri kangguru:

Tapi jujur aja, maskapai Indonesia itu kualiasnya baik atau sub-standard sih? Kalau di kantor saya, semua diplomat Eropa kami disarankan untuk terbang dengan maskapai terbaik, eg. naik Garuda untuk domestik, hindari budget airlines.

Dan saya, jujur ... err, akan lebih prefer maskapai asing.

Dan kamu sendiri?

gennaio 25, 2008

Kredibilitas dan

Whoah, aneh juga yah, tau-tau tulisan gue diklip tanpa gue ketahui oleh website Phrasebook. Tadi lagi iseng google aja, eh tau-tau nemu ini di internet. Rupanya phrasebook adalah situs yang mempromosikan belajar bahasa asing. Lucu aja ngeliat buah pena gue dijadikan materi situs internasional. ehehe, credibility credibility credibility!



gennaio 16, 2008


Italia, betapa rindunya diriku akan ambience sore hari di piazza cantik di kota-kota kecil di Italia. Oohhh ......!

Imaji tipikal sore hari di piazza di Italia

gennaio 05, 2008

No Excuse at Scusa - Go to Scusa Restaurant, Jakarta

No Excuse at Scusa

I had always wondered what secrets lay behind those mouthwatering dishes tantalizingly served at swanky restaurants. And I was equally curious about what it’d be like being in a cooking demonstration show. Given the ubiquitousness of such program on the local telly, I might as well let myself give in.

The promise was a culinary experience: a step-by-step preparation of an authentic home-made Italian lunch menu and secrets of the Italian cuisine revealed by Luigi Gigio Girardin, chef of the Scusa restaurant at the Intercontinental Mid-Plaza Hotel.

The scarlet-walled Scusa was abuzz that Saturday morning. Excitement was ample as a good couple of years had passed since a similar event was last run at the five-star establishment. Next to the bar counter, raw ingredients and different cooking appliances sat on a chrome tabletop impatiently awaiting the chef’s debut in public cooking.

My fifteen participant compatriots seemed a little unsure of what laid in store as they took their seats and attempted to scribble the ingredients and chef Luigi’s indispensable tips (did you know air-tight containers would be best to keep your precious 24-month aged Parmesan fresh in the fridge?). Happily, as we were told, a recipe book would be handed out later along with an exclusive Scusa souvenir apron.

The Padua-trained gastronomic genius’s feat commenced as he tossed arborio rice into an olive-oiled pot. This was clearly for the Sicilian rice balls of arancini.

Then came the meaty hard-core for the Piedmontese classic bollito misto. Pieces of chicken drums, cotechino or Italian pork sausages (may be substituted with beef sausages), huge chunks of veal shanks and, yes, an entirely wholesome bovine tongue, went on a free fall into another pot full of boiling water.

The forty-year old chef kept beaming as he food-processed bunches of basil, parsley, mint, capers, anchovies fillets and Dijon mustard to concoct the gleaming salsa verde. With a pesto-like appearance, the flavorful salsa verde was to accompany our quasi all-meat bollito misto. And to wrap the three-course menu was the Italian dessert of zabaglione, served cool.

I felt the proposed menu was decidedly adventurous. Indonesia-loving Luigi wanted to take us on an ambitious tour of his country: rice-based appetizer from mild tempered Sicily, a main course from the franco-swiss border and a saccharine-packed dessert from the Veneto region (no wonder the Venetians need a carnival to burn their excess sugar).

Lunch time, or, more appropriately, crunch time. “Buon appetito!” said our chef. “Il mangiar troppo è un vizio,” I so often heard this when I was in Italy. Eating too much is a debauch. A positively Italian one, that is.

So, I had a go at the golden brown arancini. If I must be honest, I would have preferred to relish this Sicilian speciality without tomato sauce, just how they’d normally be nibbled at in their place of origin.

As predicted, I grappled with the main course. The calorie-feeder bollito misto would be an excellent companion for northern Italy’s severe winter, but it proved to be extremely rich or my tropical gut. The previously gory-looking tongue, to my surprise, was incredibly soft and palatable even after witnessing it boiled, peeled and cut to pieces.

With a jazzy tune playing in the background, we were asked if we felt like we’re in Italy. Well, I can honestly say that with a menu this elaborate, such you would witness only at an Italian family’s “pranzo di domenica” (the sacred Sunday banquet), the only one thing missing was a soprano-voiced Italian mamma telling you to finish everything off the plate.

As Barolo wine and the Sicilian Nero d’Avola poured into our chopes, we were offered to degust other delicacies: Scusa’s home-made bread stuffed with fetta cheese; grilled Italian onion to go with a spoonful of the bollito misto broth, I never thought onions could be so luscious; and syrupy apple slivers bathed in mercilessly sweet juice to scare a dietician.

Thanks to such a rigorous menu, I quickly acquired a full stomach. But only fools would miss out on Scusa’s offer of an authentic Marsala-infused zabaglione and a Milanese pastry gem, the panettone. I admit I was partly melancholic as I was swamped with fond memories of seeing hundreds of panettoni sold in Italian supermarkets, as tradition wants it during the month of December in Italy.

Let’s face it, this is as close as you can get for a feel of Italian christmast in the country. And not to mention a brilliant chance to intimately wine and dine with one of the capital’s few Italian chefs.

Rapturous chef Luigi announced the soft panettone was also available at the hotel’s patisserie, the Deli, and whispered to my ear in Italian that he was going to dish out a traditional meal every month, starting with the pasta alla carbonara in January 2008.

I concluded there’s no excuse to miss the next special occasion, even if we’re Scusa. Oh, did I mention that scusa means excuse in Italian?

Scusa restaurant is on the second floor of the Intercontinental Mid-Plaza Hotel, tel. 021-2510888.



  • 150 gr risotto rice
  • 600 ml chicken stock
  • 100 gr minced beef
  • 50 gr Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 50 gr green peas
  • 20 gr parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, choped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 200 gr bread crumbs


    1. Bring the chicken stock to a boil and add the rice
    2. Stir occasionally so that it doesn’t sit on the bottom of the pan
    3. Let it boil for 20 minutes then add the minced beef, green peas and chopped garlic
    4. Let it cook for another 10 minutes or until the rice is soft
    5. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper
    6. Remove from heat and place on a tray to cool down
    7. When cool, add the Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and the two beaten egg and mix well with the risotto
    8. Take small batches and form balls, 3 cm in diameter and roll in the bread crumbs
    9. Heat up oil to 170ºC for deep-frying. Add the Arancini and fry them until golden brown
    10. Remove and drain from excess oil
    11. Serve with a spicy tomato sauce or mayonnaise

Recipe: courtesy of Scusa and the Intercontinental Mid-Plaza Hotel.