A short history of the rice table
The „selamatan“ is a communal feast from Java, symbolising the social unity of those participating in it. A selamatan can be given to celebrate almost any occurrence, including religious events, birth, marriage, death, moving house and so forth.
The word Selamatan expresses the notions of thanksgiving, blessing, and grace.
The guests sit on woven mats along the walls or at long tables, with plates of local food beautifully displayed in the middle. After a short speach and pray, the host’s friends pass around food.
During the dutch indies, such rich assortiments of foods were also offered by the sultans to the Dutch senior officials on their visits. Inspired by the indonesian traditions, the word „rijsttafel“ („rice table“) was created, to describe a rich presentation of popular dishes from across the colony. The Dutch colonials introduced the rice table not only so they could enjoy a wide array of dishes at a single setting but also to impress visitors with the exotic abundance of their colony.
Today the rice table doesn‘t have a social connotation, and just stands for an elaborate meal with numerous dishes.