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Letter R for Rice

April 23, 2008

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April 2008 NaBloPoMo

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Before I lived in Japan, I had only had rice a few times in my life. We had rice at my parents’ house with stir fry and whenever we ate chicken and broccoli at a Chinese restaurant. Usually though, breakfast was cereal with milk, lunch was a sandwich and fruit, and supper was vegetables from the garden and meatloaf or baked chicken.

When I studied abroad in Japan, my host father insisted that rice in the United States was different from Japanese rice. He was so adamant about it that I was offended. At the time I didn’t know how many varieties of rice there were, so I was really surprised that he would put so much emphasis (and implied superiority) on Japanese rice. I knew that the rice at my host parents’ house was delicious, but I couldn’t even remember what the rice I had eaten in the United States looked like or how it tasted. I was very inexperienced.

After I graduated from college, I moved to Japan and began to learn more about cooking for myself. Suddenly, rice became the foundation of at least two meals a day! At first, I was living alone so I didn’t worry too much about making meals, but once my husband and I started living together he insisted that we get a rice cooker so that we could have rice every single night. I did pretty well cooking rice in a pot on the stove, but a programmable rice cooker is really considered essential for a married couple in Japan. When the rice is finished cooking, the appliance sings to you. The one we had sang the tune of “twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.”

My mom bought us a rice cooker to use in the United States because we left our old one behind with one of my husband’s sisters who had just moved to Japan. It is not programmable, doesn’t have an LCD display, and doesn’t sing, but I suppose it is functional. I was very angry one day and the rice cooker’s lid was open. I was looking for something to take my anger out on so I slammed the lid down and the latch broke. Now I have to use packaging tape to secure the lid. It’s so ghetto. We use it every day though. I think we’re ready to get a fancier one because we’ve been using this one with the broken lid for so long.

This morning my son said, “Apple juice, Mom, puweeze, puweeze.” Then he said, “Arroz, Mom, puweeze, puweeze, arroz, arroz.” So I cooked him some rice for breakfast. He was so excited. As it was cooking, he continued asking for it and then when I served it onto his plate he was salivating. “Hot, blow, blow, arroz, hot!” Then while he was eating it he was making all kinds of noises like, “num, num, num, mmmmmmmmmm . . . arroz.”

I’m trying to decide on a new rice cooker because our family loves rice! I want one that will sing a little diddy to me.

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5 Comments
  1. April 24, 2008 10:16 am

    Soon rice and corn will be but a memory in the Third World. Even big box stores in the U.S. (Wal-Mart, Sams, and Costco) are warning of rice shortages. Thanks to the rise of bio-fuels, food production is decreasing precipitously. Global depopulation is being pursued in the name of climate change. Kissinger wrote about controlling the food supply to reduce population in his 1974 U.N. piece. His dreams are being realized.

  2. April 24, 2008 9:37 pm

    So, Johnny, are you saying I should rethink having a third child? And maybe that I should get my priorities in order and not covet a singing rice cooker? 😛

  3. April 24, 2008 10:39 pm

    No, I am not saying not to procreate. That is a truly individual decision. Actually, I envy the parents who have the courage to bring a child into this World. I certainly could not, but that is primarily due to a narrow urethra, kinda like Hank Hill has.

    I think you have your priorities in perfect order, and you are very well balanced. I liked the story of the broke-down rice cooker. I have a lot of relics lying around too. Why build up the Chi-Com war machine when you can make do with what you have?

  4. You, madam, are no Sei Shonagon permalink
    June 2, 2008 8:33 pm

    My rice cooker is 18 years old. I bought it in Japan when I lived here before. It just won’t die and still makes great rice. No computer, no music, one switch, that’s it. BUT you must buy quality rice and rinse it. And yes Japanese rice, the good stuff, the hard-core stuff from Uonuma in Niigata. It makes me cry with happiness. However, Japanese rice is good for Japanese food and other Asian cuisines. When I’m making Indian I pull out Basmati.

    I like my rice cooker, but the most delicious way is in a donabe (earthenware pot). I’ve done it a few times, even though it’s more effort to monitor the rice and clean up.

    Carlos makes rice the Bolivian way: toast the rice in a saute pan with oil, add broken pieces of spaghetti or other thin pasta, and add water. Makes a great pilaf with Bolivian or Peruvian food.

  5. June 6, 2008 5:35 pm

    LOL Johnny, you really didn’t need to go there. “That boy ain’t right.” I am still using the taped rice cooker. It is good enough.

    Madam, I do rinse and soak the rice as I learned to do in Japan. We have been eating Jasmine rice from Thailand. I am going to check at “El Chino” (that’s what my husband calls the asian food market) and see if they have some from Japan. Thanks for your delicious comment!

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