It was gamelan music that woke me from my sleep, but it was the gado-gado that awoke my palate. One night back in the early 1980s, while I was staying with friends in Jakarta, the rhythmic strains of an Indonesian band of xylophones, gongs, and cymbals beat in through my darkened window. Curious, I rose from bed and went out to the back alley, where a group of transvestite performers—one of many such roving troupes called banci—were executing an exquisite West Javanese dance. They were performing for loose change, which I gave them, along with friendship, and one night, while they were still encamped nearby, they invited me to dinner. Beside the fire, we ate a meal of such intricacy and flavor, it was even more thrilling than the dance. This was my introduction to gado-gado, a dish I have loved ever since.