Police in West Jakarta's Kembangan sub-district are questioning a street seller who allegedly spat into a bowl containing bakso cuanki before serving it to his customer, following CCTV recording of the deplorable incident that is circulating widely online.
The spitting itself was caught on Monday evening by Hikma, a resident of South Meruya neighborhood in Kembangan, who ordered a bowl of the meatball soup from a food peddler, identified as 21-year-old WS, who passed by in front of her house. At that time, she ordered one portion of the dish for her toddler, went back inside as the seller prepared the meal, and saw him spitting into the bowl from her home CCTV, with the surveillance camera installed on her porch.
Despite having seen WS spitting into the bowl, Hikma said she didn't dare scold him on the spot and proceeded to pay.
"I was afraid to call him out. Moreover, my husband hadn't arrived home at that time. That's why I still paid him, but then I threw it away," Hikma said yesterday.
Hikma said it was the first time she bought bakso cuanki from WS, though he is known to regularly sell the dish in the neighborhood.
Bakso cuanki is meatball soup with sides of tofu, shumai dumplings, and batagor – which is short for bakso tahu goreng, a Sundanese fried fish/tofu dumpling mostly associated with the West Java capital of Bandung. Cuanki is said to be the abbreviation of "cari uang jalan kaki" (earning money on foot), as sellers usually walk around town while balancing two metallic food containers with a wooden rod that rests on one of their shoulders.
Kembangan Police Chief Imam Irawan said WS was briefly released from detainment after his initial arrest, but he was then resummoned for further questioning.
"He initially told us that he only smelled [the dish]. Then we looked into it again, checking the CCTV recording again, then he admitted to have spat [into the bowl]. We're currently investigating further at our police station," Imam said today.
WS told the police that he was taught to spit and recite a spell into the bowl of his dish by a dukun (shaman) in his hometown of Garut in West Java. He was led to believe that that yucky secret ingredient would help attract customers.
Hikma is reportedly still reluctant to press charges against WS, though police have encouraged her to. Meanwhile, we're probably going to swear off bakso for now.