Indonesia Clove Cigarettes

Euromonitor International's Tobacco in Indonesia report offers a comprehensive guide to the size and shape of the market at a national level.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Kretek

By Mark Hanusz
(Equinox Publishing; 224 pages)

Arrive at any Indonesian airport and your initial assault, even before you get to the taxi drivers, will be from the scent of kretek, the clove-blended cigarettes unique to this nation. The fragrant (detractors say sickeningly sweet) smell of kretek permeates almost every corner of the vast archipelago, from bars and caf├ęs to mosques and government offices, so much so that it is generally taken for granted. That is, until now. In Kretek: The Culture and Heritage of Indonesia's Clove Cigarettes, first-time author Mark Hanusz explores the product's rich cultural and commercial history. Two years ago, the 29-year-old American ditched his job as a stockbroker in Jakarta and spent 18 months traveling across Indonesia and to the Netherlands in pursuit of this uniquely Indonesian product, a blend of tobacco, dried cloves and a special sauce that varies with each of the 1,800 brands on the market. The results are impressive. Hanusz presents a beautifully illustrated and detailed account of this 120-year-old industry that is as inseparable from Javanese culture as its shadow puppets. The book is a groundbreaking work of research that will appeal as much to anthropologists as it will to those curious to learn more about that strange smell found only in Indonesia.
By Jason Tedjasukmana