What is Maicih?
Maicih is a hot new trend just recently happening, and by hot I don't mean figuratively, as the name itself implies a line of very hot snacks that includes crackers and chips, guaranteed to satisfy Indonesian appetite for super hot food.
I considers Maicih as a successful revival, especially of an old trend, the "kurupuk lada", or popularly known as "kurupuk bondon" snack that used to be popular in Bandung and its surrounding cities three decades ago.
Stringy crunchy and very hot, kurupuk lada/bondon usually incorporates the bright purplish pink coloring only attainable through artificial flavoring -- which many suspects were not even food-grade coloring. But we're young, it sold virtually everywhere in every warung and kios in Bandung, and health concern often took a back seat against monetary concerns, especially since for a good 25 rupiah we could get a plastic full of amazing treat from this highly addictive hot umami (and a bit bitter from the coloring) snack. As comparison, a plate of baso tahu costs about 150 rupiah back then, and it is 7K now; 1 USD equals with 200 IDR and it's about 9K now.
By the way, it's probably the only public-acceptable use of the word "bondon" outside of adult-only talks, for its negative connotation: it's the notorious alias for a hooker in those ages. The more decent name for the snack is "Gurilem". I'm not sure how the term came up but I can still remember the line-art drawings on the chip's label depicting a girl with overly make up and accessories -- which I believe was drawn with something beautiful in the artist's mind, but came out looking cartoon like with strange proportion. Perhaps the name itself mimics the brassy visualization both the profession and the snack shares.
At present, Maicih line of products does not contain only gurilem, but also other kind of cassava chips seasoned with dry chilli powder and other seasoning; interestingly Maicih also provide it at different level of hotness; 10 is the hottest, and only a few can actually enjoy that level of scorching.
As for the name itself, Reza Nurhilman, its creator reveal that "Maicih" emerges from his memory of an old lady who he often encountered back in his childhood upon accompanying his mother to the local traditional market.
At the time of the product launch, people queued for a kilometre long: it's roughly two thirds of a mile, but usually it's used as a general figure to describe "very long" since Indonesian are more familiar with metrics measurement. The product itself gain its popularity not by conventional marketing but through Twitter, isn't it amazing?
However, due to an internal family dispute, starting July 2011 there are two versions of Maicih available on the market, each with the exactly same name but with a different logo: the side-facing one are managed under Reza Nurhilman, while the front-facing one are managed under Dimas Ginanjar Merdeka, Reza's older brother.
To avoid the "original vs. fake" debate, for differencing I will refer to the first one as "Maicih-S" with the "S" stands for "Side-facing" or "Sisi" in its Bahasa Indonesia counterparts, and the other one as "Maicih-F" with the "F" stands for "Front-facing" or "Frontal" which is also used in Bahasa Indonesia.
|Maicih logo Reza Nurhilman version|
With over 80 distributors over Indonesia, Maicih products under Reza Nurhilman management are also available outside Indonesia in Singapore and Japan, though distribution are still severely limited due to a very high delivery cost from Indonesia. However Reza also mentioned that his vision includes internationalizing Maicih, so perhaps you can expect it to reach Australian and US's shores sometimes in the near future.
With only after a year in operation, Reza already claimed an omzet (sales volume) of 4 billion IDR per-month. That's about 450.000 USD.
You can read Reza Nurhilman story on how he build his business in this article from Vivanews. It's in Indonesian but you can always relies on Google Translate to make it more understandable in English.
Maicih-S website is http://www.maicih.co.id, and he tweets under http://twitter.com/infomaicih.
|Maicih logo Dimas Merdeka version|
Focusing more on quality and community support, Maicih products under Dimas Merdeka takes sales & distribution on a slower pace; focusing on Bandung as its baseline first, and actively participating in environmental, and art & culture programs, i.e.: sponsoring music tour of indie music groups.
Dimas believes that quality is of utmost importance hence they only produces what they can maintain good QC on, which is about 5,000 packages a day.
Dimas creates paper repackaging, provides clear product information including ingredients and nett weight, he also certifies Maicih products to have legal registration number from the government, as well as Halal certification from LPPOM-MUI.
Maicih-F website is http://www.maicih.com, and he tweets under http://twitter.com/maicih.
What's in the name of Maicih?
The term "Maicih" itself can be further dissected into "Ma" and "Icih", where Ma is short for "Ema" or mother in Sundanese, and Icih is among the common old traditional women name in Sundanese, along with Odah, Ucu, Enok, Eneng, Euis, etc.
If you have a fire-resistant mouth and strong stomach, Maicih might be an ideal snack for you. As for myself, even with two years eating Balinese very spicy foods, I still lacked way behind in capcaisin resistance -- the thing in chilli peppers that causes the burn -- compared with most of my eating buddies hence I only dare to eat Maicih along with my rice meal, or it will causes an upset stomach.
Else, have a glass of cold milk ready by your side, or yoghurt, as they both contain casein that binds the capcaisin better than your mouth's walls, quickly relieves you from the pain.
Alternatively you could also try rich in fat desserts and drinks, e.g.: banana split, avocado juice, es cendol, bajigur, or es goyobod, as capcaisin dissolves in fat instead of water; for the same reason, ice cold water won't help much as it would only numb your nerves for a while without really removing the hazardous capcaisin. (byms)