Elevate Difference


I am currently reading, belatedly, Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire, and enjoying it very much. The book was inspirational to my book group, a circle of commendable females who have been meeting to discuss fiction, non-fiction, biographies, theory and plays for over a decade. At one point we were called 'The Menstrual Hut'—a logical choice for a hen party that gathers once a month—but some may have disavowed the name. The Pollan, in addition to the recent spate of substance or foodstuff specific volumes—Salt, Cod—made me consider whether there is a corresponding book about rice. Indeed there is, and Marie Simmons' Rice: The Amazing Grain is cited extensively at Lotus Foods' website.

In addition to providing the staple carbohydrate for half the world's population, rice offers straw, alcohol, vinegar, stock feed, fuel, shoe oil, and clothing fiber. Not to mention—Snap, Crackle, Pop—Rice Krispies. Lotus Foods does not appear to offer brown rice krispies, honey-sweetened and to be served with soy or rice milk in a ceramic bowl made by a homeless person in recovery at a Buddhist shelter, no lead in the raku glaze, of course—but if they did, I would purchase them. Their rice is amazing. And I am gourmet and gourmand. And I offer this endorsement on the strength and delicacy of the Kalijira alone.

As the red delicious is a sorry manifestation of breeding to the ends of appearance and durability at the expense of flavor, and industrial iceberg lettuce completely lacks taste and nutrition, I thought that I had consumed rice, but I was wrong. Even a nice restaurant jasmine does not compare to the nutty individuality and textural integrity of this tiny aromatic grain. A fair cook, I managed to prepare it adequately in a standard pot instead of a rice cooker, and served it with a dal. (It is a time to renew my appreciation of the lentil.) I definitely overdid the turmeric in this batch, but the rice shone through. I intend to stir-fry some leftover frozen mixed veggies (the carrots were picked out of the veggies for a lentil soup last week), supplemented by a fresh red pepper and onion, garlic and ginger, mushrooms if feeling decadent, to try with the bamboo-infused Jade Pearl rice.

It's also more visually engaging than any colorless goo: the jade pearl grains are little translucent celadon ovoid globes. The emperor's exclusive Forbidden Rice is strikingly red-black, and would contrast nicely with white fish and a steamed green or seaweed salad on a red plate, something pickled for garnish. It is a time to exalt the humble and appreciate the basics such as food and shelter as much as possible. Perhaps I'll take a three-grain rice pilaf to the Hardcore Histories Ron Asheton tribute potluck at the experimental cultural center Friday. This rice is too good not to share.

Written by: Erika Mikkalo, March 18th 2009
Tags: food, rice