The Margo Utomo plantation has an excellent tour, during which they teach you about the origins of all sorts of spices. Cinnamon, for example, is a tree bark -- our guide peeled some right off the tree.
Nutmeg is particularly surprising. It's actually a fruit -- a tart, nutmeggy fruit. Inside is a seed covered by a beautiful, lacy red husk. The husk is ground to make mace; the seed itself is what becomes nutmeg powder.
While we were admiring the nutmeg, the palm sap collecter came around and started climbing a nearby palm tree. There are notches cut on either side of the trunk for footholds.
To make palm sugar, you collect the sap from the palm buds. Then you boil it down into a sort of sweet brown hockey puck. Palm sugar has a nice, rich caramel-y flavor that's key to certain Indonesian sweets.
The tree-climber's daughter helped him pour the sap into the waiting jugs.
She liked it when the last of the sap gurgled down through the funnel.