While I was visiting a friend in a convalescence home the other day in LA, I noticed a framed shirt and picture on the wall with a brochure. It could have been from an ex-patient or worker of the home. The interesting part that I noticed was that the brochure mentioned ‘Netherlands Indies Restaurant San Francisco 1939.’ Could this be the first time the west coast was introduced to East Indies Cuisine?
The brochure got me interested and when I got home I started my research online. The Isle of Bali restaurant participated in the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition held in San Francisco, California. At the time, the Isle of Bali was billed as a Netherlands Indies Restaurant, but today the Netherlands Indies is known as Indonesia. The Isle of Bali served Javanese cuisine with locations in San Francisco, Paris, Brussels and The Hague (Den Haag).
On the menu: special ‘curry’ dishes – referring to the ‘bumbu or spice mix base’ for the dish: like the Nasi Goreng – fried rice with a curry base. Then a selection of RIJSTTAFELS – from 9 to 14 and more dishes served with rice. Then an assortment of A LA CARTE dishes like sajors or soups served with the main course, pork, beef, and sambalans – spicy relish base with added ingredients. Then there are the chicken dishes and various dishes, like: steamed rice, gado-gado, kroepoek, fried egg etc. And last but not least desserts, like: fried bananas, Javanese rice pudding, coconut with Javanese sugar and special ice cream.
Some other interesting facts about the exposition:
- Title: 1939-40 Golden Gate International Exposition.
- Theme: Pageant of the Pacific.
- Theme Girl: Zoë Del Lantis.
- Location: Treasure Island, San Francisco, California.
- Category: Universal Exhibition.
- Symbol: Tower of the Sun.
- Exposition President: Al Smith.
- Dates: February 19, 1939 – October 29, 1939.
May 25, 1940 – September 29, 1940.
- Area: .403 acres
- Cost: $57,500,000.
- Losses (1939): $4,189,213.84.
- Area Revenue Generated: $100,000,000 (estimated).
- Hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM daily. Gayway: 10:00 AM – 2:00 AM.
- Daily Admission: 50¢ for adults, 25¢ for children 5-12 years old.
- Children’s Day: 10¢.
- Record Daily Attendance: 187,730 (October 8th).
- Closing Day Attendance (1939): 147,674.
- Closing Day Attendance (1940): over 200,000.
- Architecture: Eastern, European and Latin American.
- Cultural Influences: Cambodian, Incas, Malaysians and Mayan.
- Horticulture Program: $1,500,000.
- Horticulture Director: Julius L Girod.
- Participating Nations (20): Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, French Indo-China, Guatemala, Holland, Italy, Johore, Japan, Java, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands East Indies, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Switzerland, Uruguay. I found references to 26 countries.
© 2012 Jeff Keasberry