"President Obama visited Indonesia and the most substantial thing to come out of the visit was he likes bakso," reads the Indonesian news email I received this week. Yes, indeed. For reasons passing understanding, President Obama decided to thank Indonesians for their bakso, kindling the disastrous misconception that this is a food we should make available in this country. According to food writer Charles Ferruzza, "If President Obama loves bakso, I want to taste it, too."
No no no no no no no you don't.
There's an Indonesian fruit called durian that smells like foot and tastes like a raw onion stuffed with pineapple and garlic, and it is infinitely better than bakso.
If you find that hard to believe, just listen to Slashfood's Robert Sietsema explain that the meatballs are "often formed from bovine variety meats," which means cow tendons. He goes on to stress that what's most important is that "the meat is extended with tapioca flour, which gives the meatballs a bouncy consistency." This is true; bakso has the consistency of a doggie chew toy.
News articles extol bakso's "air of mystery." Since when is that a quality we prize in a food product? SPAM also has an air of mystery. So does Cheez Whiz.
If the President wants to eat some mysterious bovine tendon, yes he can. But no, the rest of us don't have to.