Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rice is rice, right?

Oh no... never... How could I have been so naïve?

Basmati rice.

Early on when A. and I were at the dating stage, when going grocery shopping together was a new experience and when cooking dinners was something special... We were in the aisle of an Indian grocery store, trying to figure out which 5kg bag of rice we'd get. Why get a 5kg bag of rice for 2 people was beyond me, so the only reason I could conjure was saving on money. Which lead me to suggest a cheaper bag of rice to A. instead of the sona masoori he had in his hands. A. promptly dismissed my choice, mumbling something under his breath.  Then I asked:

But rice is rice, right?
Oh boy, the look on his face was that of complete disappointment. He was probably weighing the odds of being able to keep a relationship with a person so dismissive of... rice! 

I admit I'm not a rice person. Yes, many people in Brazil have rice and beans every day, but 1) I'm not one of those and 2) I've always been more of a beans and rice person anyway (or, even better, beans with manioc flour!!). Also, in Brazil we basically have 1 type of rice which is classified into different categories based on quality (broken grains included or not) and whether it is parboiled. That's it! And the making of the rice is different, usually including frying some onions and garlic, then adding the rice, frying some more, then adding (gasp!) salt, and then water. Meaning that the actual taste of the rice is not something we focus on.

Brazilian rice and beans. But note they are usually just sides.

A. on the other hand loves rice. Basmati rice above all. He can differentiate types of rice by their smell, look and taste. He easily eats more than 5 kgs of rice by himself in a month. If there is rice a meal is complete, without it no matter how many curries there are, there will always be something missing. Fried rice or carrot/tomato/coconut/lemon/tamarind rice are full fledged meals for him. You get the picture.

So, years later, what happened? We did get the 5kg sona masoori, A. continues eating rice as much as always, and I, well, I admit I've learned to recognize basmati rice.... but please bring me the sides! 


  1. Ah, this is a never ending battle between me and the wife. I have given up all hopes of her coming to grips with the subtleties of rice.

    According to her it is starch/empty calories/pile-of-sugar all paving a shining path to diabetes. I do understand her "western" reasoning behind it but I don't think she understands the visceral gastronomic relationship we have with rice! :)

  2. Ah DsylexiHippo,
    It's good to know that I have some support to my theories in your wife ;)

  3. looks very similar to the Indian Rajma Masala dish. yum.

  4. You know Samba nothing... absolutely nothing... fills the tummy of a South Asian like Rice does. Guess we are hard wired to be that way. I know this for a fact because I cannot fall asleep in the night if I don't have my dose of rice in the night.

  5. Yeah Cj... I know... I didn't believe it at first, but after almost 4 years I can say I believe that South Asians NEED rice to live. :)

  6. This is the fun thing about living overseas or marrying a foreigner: learning new things like the Importance of Knowing Your Rice. I learned about it when living and traveling in the Far East. I always thought rice was rice too until then. In the Netherlands it's potatoes that people have a certain feeling about. Not all potatoes are created equal.

    When it comes to olive oil, I'm still trying to distinguish one from another. Italians would be horrified. They can taste the difference between their own oil and the oil from a village away. And they'll tell you all about it!

    Keep trying with rice. Cook some Thai jasmin rice and you'll smell it all over the house and it's delicious.

  7. I ate the best long grain basmati rice today and i would be glad to share this with the world. Diamond Pearl Long Grain Basmati is available at Rupees Rs. 135 only. Grab one now. Call for free delivery +91 22 26461774

  8. Hi figs,
    Do you deliver in Brazil? :P