The most complicated part of bose was how to pronounce it.
Hanna, trip leader and co-founder of Du’Anyam, introduced it as “Bo-ce.” “You know, like the speaker company.”
But Aaron of East Bali Cashews, fellow tour participant and human Google, interjected with, “Nope, that’s pronounced ‘bo-ze’. You’ve been duped.”
As Hanna went stiff with disbelief and began to ponder the existence of other mistaken pronunciations picked up over the years, I started to eat. “Bo-ce” easily became my favorite food while in the region.
Bose is a traditional dish made across villages in Nusa Tenggara Timur, more commonly known as Flores. On the East Flores trip I joined hosted by Du’Anyam, bose appeared three times—in Pulau Solor, Larantuka and Ende. Each version varied but highlighted the ingredients Flores cultivated—all nutritious, affordable and accessible to locals.
Of the three bowls, my favorite bose was the one served at the home and farm of Maria Loretha, fondly referred to as Mama Sorghum. It was specially made from sorghum, a hardy grain whose ability to flourish in the dry and hot conditions of Flores have made it a valuable crop in recent years thanks to Mama Sorghum’s efforts.
Other traditional versions can be made sweet or savory with corn kernels and any variety of dried beans. It can eaten at any time of day as a snack or supplement to a larger meal. Comparable to bubur or congee, bose is a hearty dish that fills the stomach and soul.
As an addition to the recipe below, I would recommend adding a pinch of freshly-shaved cloves while cooking or serving. With the abundance of clove trees in Flores, the pairing with bose would be highly appropriate.
Make yourself a bowl!
Note: If you are interested in the East Flores open-trips hosted by Du’Anyam, please visit their website and follow them on Facebook to find out when their next schedule of tours will take place. Flores is an often overlooked region of Indonesia but has the culture, history and scenery that any traveler would dream to explore.