During the recent Nor’easter, Stella that hammered the East Coast, I was reminded of one of my favorite go-to concoctions. Rain, snow, time on your hands, Christmas Eve traditions, food prep for the week… Risotto.
Rice. Where shall I begin… Nippon.
I learned to respect rice in Japan. We were lunching one day in Kobe, and my dear friend Eriko Ishikawa, in a very proper, quiet manner, told me a simple story… Out of respect for the rice farmer, one should always eat every last grain served in your bowl—the rice farmer toils long and hard in the fields. This deserves our respect. To this day, when enjoying rice, I eat every single grain that is on my plate, and say a quiet thank you to the rice farmer and to my friend Eriko. Traveling between Osaka and Tokyo on the Shinkansen, (Bullet Train!) one can see perfect row after row on the seemingly endless rice paddies out the windows. I was reminded of the Japanese rice farmer when I saw images of the devastated fields after the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami… There is nothing like the taste of the white rice of Nippon.
Those rice paddies of Japan, seen rushing past out the windows of the train, had perfect beautiful planned symmetry. In Indonesia, on hikes, or even roadside, one could see layer upon layer of pooled terraces cut in to the hillsides for rice growth. One of my most memorable meals one day in Indonesia, was high in the hillside at a small trailside spot, Mama Siska’s. We sat on simple wooden benches overlooking the expansive terraces and were served fish that had been caught on the fields! Delicious. I wonder how Mama Siska and her family are today? Her children of course then chanting, gula-gula, (candy, candy!) now grown.
Black rice. Sticky rice… And, fried rice in Hong Kong, with egg! On and on. Delicious!