Million of stomachs growl as tempe disappears from menus
Tempe (fermented soybean cake) has always been considered a typical dish for the common people or those in the lower income brackets in Indonesia.
Many `warteg` (short for `Warung Tegal` or food stall) sell tempe and tofu to meet the need of "lower class" consumers. With Rp1,000 (less than 10 dollar cents) one can have two pieces of tempe or tofu.
But is tempe or tofu really a dish for small people? When Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was elected president and was to deliver his first speech before the parliament in 2004, tempe was one of the `mandatory` dishes on the menu of his breakfast that morning.
Throughout the archipelago, tempe is a popular dish for people from top executives down to daily laborers. That`s why when tempe producers took to the streets in protest against the skyrocketing price of soybean, the main ingredient of tempe and tofu, the president was quick in responding to the rally.
Hundreds of millions of stomachs were at least `growling` when no less than 3,000 tempe producers stopped production for three days and staged a demonstration calling for soybean price stability.
Some 3,000 tofu and tempe producers staged a rally outside the presidential palace on Monday, urging the government to stabilize the soybean price which had risen by almost 100 percent in the past year.
The skyrocketing soybean price had reduced tofu and tempe producers` profit margins. The retail soybean price jumped 110 percent to Rp7,250 a kg early in January 2008 from the same period last year.