Sunday, May 06, 2007

What do you want for dinner?

One of my little kids once said "Rice is good." and it sort of summed up something that I've noticed for a while. We are very loyal to the grains of our culture. When I was attending a Certain Illustrious Institution of Higher Learning, there was no short grain rice to be found in the cafeteria. The only kind of thing they had was that instant Uncle Ben shit, that stuff doesn't even smell right. The first month was the worst. Because I had no rice cooker, and I wasn't confident enough to try to cook rice in a pot. And when my mother sent me a rice cooker, I made a pot and just ate it straight, that's how desperate for rice I was. It doesn't make any logical sense. Our health classes teach us that we can get carbohydrates from many types of food. But during my month or so without the "right kind" of rice, I definitely felt the lack. (And for your information, the "right kind" would be short grain white, long grain won't do it, and brown rice won't do it, although I appreciate both of these kinds from time to time.)

This isn't just an Asian thing. My Caucasian coworkers have frequently said that they eventually want to eat bread or potatoes again. They get sick of rice. And I remember a short story I read, written by a native Hawaiian, who said "Rice is great and all, but I've got to have my poi."

Why do our grains come to represent our culture for us? Because they remind us of home? But why more so than say, meats or vegetables? I'm not really sure. Sometimes they seem to stand in for our culture, hence the term "rice rockets" we mean an Asian car, but if we say rice everyone will know it's an Asian car. But in the end I agree with my student, rice is good.

Ok, I'm going to stop before it gets all Amy Tan up in here.

8 comments:

exangelena said...

On "diversity day" at my high school, we had an assembly with a video of several students discussing diversity. One of them was this Asian guy who was like, "I'm Asian and I like rice ..." and the whole auditorium screamed with laughter. Including me.

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez said...

i love this.

for me it is corn, maize...i remember the smell of corn tortillas from my youth, my nanita smacking them back and forth, the women grinding them. the small fills me with happiness.

lovelesscynic said...

I don't know what it is about those carbohydrates, boy, but they really do instill loyalty in us for some reason. Anyway, glad you liked it.

Oh yes, and exangelena, they still have diversity day over there? The ethnic fashion show always made me feel uncomfortable.

Nien said...

true that. i was so happy when i got a rice cooker over here. before that, everyone knew me as the guy who always jonesing for some rice like a junkie that needed their fix.

exangelena said...

LC-
AFAIK, although I haven't set foot there in ages. The ethnic fashion show was an endless parade of Chinese girls in tight silk evening dressy things.

Laurel said...

I brought a rice cooker freshman year. I may be haole, but if I go too long without Calrose rice I'll die.

If I had to pick the actual Starch Of My People, I don't know, I'd probably have to go with biscuits. And I guess I do make biscuits a lot, and there are times when I want BISH-KITSH like they are a drug, but I didn't have a very my-cultural diet as a kid, I mean, I ate local food, you know? When I get all crazy about food it's about things like haupia and Kozo sushi and Waiola shave ice and li hing rock candy (when we visited my dad I seriously ate a pound in one sitting and got sick).

OH GOD there is this Hawaiian place by my Laurel's house and they totally have chicken katsu! I still long for those Korean BBQ places, but this at least satisfies some of my needs. Macaroni saaaaalaaaad...

Now I'm hungry.

little light said...

Laurel, have you hit Noho's on Clinton? Oh man, it's full of Locals, and they have actual Hawai'ian food. Like macaroni salad. And ridiculous good kalbi and stuff.

LC, man, this is funny, because it's so hard to hit what's Grains of my People. I get super satisfied fryin' up some taro in the morning, I really Cannot Live without white short-grain rice, and oh man do I have happy childhood memories of doing that slap-slap-slap handmade maize tortilla thing Nezua's on about. I guess it's the rice. I used to eat it by the cooker-full as a teenager. Still...yeah, the food goes a long, long way.

...every few years, for that matter, I even crave matzah. Blood cells...arguing...with...each other...

lovelesscynic said...

I tell you, I know I'm biased but rice is really the best! Like Nien says it's definitely a jones for me. If I'm without it for a week or so, I start to feel cranky and not comfortable. I could really eat rice for every meal and be utterly happy.

Oh taro. They do have taro in Taiwan, there's even this kind of pastry that has sweetened taro in the middle which is really good. But I miss the hawaiian kind. I miss hawaiian food in general. For my money it's the best of all foods. Really.