For the love of rice, Spam, Mormons, and other randomness

posted on: Monday, January 28, 2008

How hard can it be to make rice? My family in Brazil would be so disappointed if they ever read this. We eat rice practically every day and 99% of the time I am NOT satisfied with it. It alternates between taste, texture, and most importantly how close together each grain is. At times I convince myself that it’s not totally my fault, in this country they just don’t have the same kind of rice that we have in Brazil. This was easy when we lived in Hawaii with only Japanese rice around. In fact I got so lazy in Hawaii that I even used a rice cooker. So day in and day out I would eat this sticky rice with beans. It did not taste right at all. My husband loves sticky rice and it is way easier to feed to Enzo than long grain rice. When I went to Brazil for two months I coaxed my sister to make rice almost daily. She makes the best rice, I am so jealous! After my trip I returned to Hawaii with the strong conviction to make Brazilian style rice. I would spend more money trying to find the perfect rice. I never found it. I decided to make brown rice instead. Even if the taste wasn’t the same I at least would have the comfort of knowing that it was healthier. Of course it was hard every single time, and my husband hated it. Then, I met a kind soul who gave me a tip. Soak the brown rice for an hour before you cook it. It worked; the rice was now soft enough that we didn’t have stomach aches every night. In California I bought a big bag at Costco of white long grain rice. The price was just too good and I convinced myself that if it was cheap enough then I would force myself to eat it even if it tasted bad. Most days it turned out fine. Yes just fine. It’s rarely perfect but it’s decent enough. The Brazilian way to make rice is as follows.
  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 cups hot water
  • ½ onion
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • salt to taste
-chop the onions very small and sauté in the hot oil. Then fry the rice in the same oil until it starts making a sizzling sound. Put in the water and salt. DO NOT mix the rice. Let it come to a boil and immediately turn the temperature down to low and cover the pot. Let it simmer for 15 minutes.
-Probably the most important step is that you also wash the rice before you cook it. I decided it’s more of a ritual than actual necessity and I rarely do it. But again I don’t feel like I even make good rice so maybe washing it does help.
Yesterday I decided to make rice before going to Church. It was 9:30 am and both my boys were tacking a nap. I couldn’t believe it. I went down to my kitchen and did all the preparation and decided to use the bathroom while the rice was coming to a boil. Of course I completely forgot about the rice. I was so excited the boys were asleep I decided to try and look nice for once before going to church and trimmed my nails, did my eyebrows, washed my hair…
I got out of the bathroom with the smoke alarm BLARING! My poor baby was so freaked out and my house smelled awful. It was a total fiasco. We had to open all the windows and doors even though it was freezing. When we got in the car to go to church I could still smell the smoke. It was all over us. We stank! My hair had this incredibly awful, awful smell. All our clothes, every part of us just smelled as if we had been running laps around a huge camp fire, so much for trying to look (or even smell) nice before going to church. I was so embarrassed. I even had a blind sister move away from me in Relief Society.
I listened to this funny documentary on PRX about Spam.
I grew up with Spam when we lived in Chicago. We had pasta with Spam sauce every Sunday. I'll leave that for another post. In the meantime listen to this short documentary. I haven't had Spam for a long time. I refused to eat it after years and years of Spam intake I just couldn't bear the thought of actually making the decision to eat Spam. I know people in Hawaii love it. If you have any recipes I'm willing to try it out again. I think.
This week I also listened to a hilarious episode of This Amercian Life. I really can't get enough, really. I loved the last segment. Babies Buying Babies. Found in the episode Matchmakers.

Babies Buying Babies.
(A synopsis from the web)
Elna Baker reads her story about the time she worked at the giant toy store, FAO Schwartz. Her job was to sell these lifelike “newborns” which were displayed in a “nursery” inside the store. When the toys become the hot new present, they begin to fly off the shelves. When the white babies sell out, white parents are faced with a choice: will they go for an Asian, Latino, or African-American baby instead? What happens is so disturbing that Elna has a hard time even telling it.

the story was so funny and EXTREMELLY thought provoking. You should definitely listen to it. I was also pleasantly surprised that the storyteller, Elna Baker is a Mormon. (Hey Melissa and Nanci is she related to you guys?). You can also see some of her comics at the onion and will soon release her memoir "The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance" so stay tuned and check out Elna's Babies Buying Babies story.


  1. Washing the rice does take off a sheen of gluten on some rice varieties. Brown rice doesn't really need it, but I'm not sure about long grain. Cook's Illustrated had a big article on rice a couple of years ago and I'm sure I still have it. I will send it to you. They show you how to make the perfect rice.
    I had to laugh about the smell in the house. I am always doing that. Anything that I can leave for a while is bad news. Out of sight, out of mind. I always burn one batch of cookies. I don't know why I have such an aversion to the kitchen timer.
    Spam really should only be eaten with sticky rice, which is probably one big reason you don't like it... :)

  2. Ok chica, did you take that picture of the rice and beans on the map?

    Next, have you been turning off the flash on your cam? How's that working for your food shots?

  3. Hey Nat,
    I totally stole that pic from the internet. The ones that I took are all the sundance onces and then the ones that I actually show the finished product like the chocolate cake, etc. I haven't taken any food shot since my trip. I'll remember to turn off the flash.

  4. Da, hilarious. The smoke, too good. I was laughing out loud. Also, when I played Thumbelina Gio started laughing hysterically. I don't know why.

  5. Oh yeah, Spam Musubi...hello. Only the best thing in the world.


Related Posts with Thumbnails