Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cooking Rice

Rice. It's simple, It can be made into a seemingly infinite number of dishes. It also feeds the world.
In locations where money and resources are scarce, the promise of a bowl of rice gives billions of impoverished people a means by which to live.
Here in a America we tend to scoff at the staple. Unless its prepackaged with tasty spices and flavors and mixed with meat, we generally turn up our noses. At least that is my perspective through personal recollections of my younger days. The dreaded "red beans and rice," "Cuban black bean soup and rice," or "breakfast plain rice" always left me disinterested as a child (although I dutifully ate up). Basically, rich people often skip or limit the white and fluffy stuff for more expensive tastes (for example those with money in China actually eat very little rice as opposed to the peasants and industrial laborers).
Despite my background and personal experience, in recent years I have have begun to look more favorably on rice. While in Costa Rica during the summer of 2008, I found myself eating the food on a daily basis along with beans, salad, and usually some sort of meat dish. This combination left me feeling leaner and more energetic than usual. The experience was one duly noted, and one I have come back to in my quest for a cheap, nutritious diet.
I have this idea of how I am going to eat during the next months or even years. It may be idealistic, but it is my plan for now. Basically I plan on beginning an eating pattern which revolves around rice, beans, and olive oil. Supplemented with this nutritious combo will be spices, herbs, vegetables, fruits, and occasionally meat (ideally free range or wild). Among this latter list, I hope to skip the store as much as possible and rely on the three G's - gather, grow, gun-down (do I need to explain why I had to chose this latter phrase and how I flee from its connotation?). These techniques will of course be dictated by my landscape and its needs - ethical and reverent harvesting. It all sounds simple and nice, but the implementation I am sure will have its "fun moments."

To cook rice (in my current case Basmati white rice):
I took a medium saucepan and added 1 cup of the good stuff. To this was added 1 1/2 cups of water. The combination was put over high heat and brought to a boil. Watching and stirring to avoid burning, I, upon the desired bubbling boil, turned the heat down to low/medium and fasted the lid tight. After exactly 13 minutes the heat was extinguished and the pot was left to think and meditate quietly in its own little "sweat lodge." After another 7 minutes I crashed the party and opened the lid. To my great surprise and relief I found a nice bed of cooked white stuff. Fluffing it up with a fork, I quietly gave thanks and  excitedly decided to write a blog entry. What a thrill!

1 comment:

  1. Dietrich,

    I love the sweat-lodge metaphor. Thank you for that realization. I think you have discovered how reverent and sacred the act of cooking can be. Perhaps you have realized how the act of cooking, and the end result, cooked food, speaks of who we are as human beings. But what you have helped me to realize is that the our cooking can quickly get carried away and turned into artifice... it becomes gawky. While one can find in the cooking and eating of fine foods a sense of the 'sacred,' it is rather easy to get caught up in all the hype and to lose yourself and your reverence.

    But with comfort food, the simple staples of life, the process and result are so simple that it invites, almost demands, reverence and joy.

    By the way, why olive oil? What health benefits does it provide? Do you eat it by itself or cook everything you gather with it?