It’s still early morning when I land in Yogyakarta, the last remaining sultanate in Indonesia. I flew in from my home in Bali to meet Yasir Feri, the owner of a legendary noodle factory in the nearby village of Bendo. After a quick breakfast, I jump on a motorcycle and drive for two hours through the lush vegetation and rice paddy fields.
Feri is just back from the market, where he has been selling his famous noodles. As I arrive, one of his workers greets me with a smile. He carries a large bundle of grass. “I must feed the cow first before he can work with us,” he says.
In this traditional factory, about 30 men from nearby villages make mie lethek, meaning dull or ugly noodles. The name comes from their grayish color, caused by sweet potato flour and dried cassava.