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Friday, July 11, 2008


Taste test of novel foods: taro jam-filled mochi.

These darling little purple treats smell like towels that have not been permitted to dry properly, as one finds often in the windowless bathrooms of poorly trained male college students and engineering degree bachelors.

These delicacies have a neutral taste which will keep your blindfolded friends guessing endlessly as to what, precisely, you have put into their mouths, assuming they didnít spit them out upon smelling them and swear to never, ever allow you to blindfold them for taste testing again.


posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

Saturday, May 12, 2007

  japonica riceOde to beautiful rice. I'm a rice-eater, far more than I am a bread-eater. (Do my Polish relatives know?) This likely has something to do with growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there are so many great rice dishes to be had in our very wide range of ethnic eateries. From Carribean-inspired red beans with rice, to saag aloo over pilau rice, to curried roasted veggies over brown basmati rice, to tempura veggies over rice, it's a routine part of my diet.

When I first left home, I ate the same rice my mother used: a long grain white rice that was available in major grocery stores. (We never used any of those 'instant' rices, which are cooked, dehydrated rice. Though I should consider it for camping use.) Then I tried a wide range, from arborio to sushi rice, and gradually switched to jasmine, then to brown, and then brown or white basmati. The brown and basmati rices had so much more flavor, and went well with the hearty, spicy dishes I cook most often. Steven preferred white basmati, so that became our staple rice, and has been for years: we'd buy it in sacks at the Indian grocery or at our favorite health food stores.

All that has changed, and I'm kind of worked up over it. During that trip to Cafe Gratitude with my raw foodist friend, my enchilada dish had come with a delicious, dark rice - not its usual side, which was a red rice they were out of. I didn't catch the name of the dark rice, but it was amazingly delicious, and I couldn't believe that something so good had escaped me for so long. On my next trip to Rainbow I scrutinized the rice selection in the high-up bulk bins more closely, and found what I was looking for: Japonica. Just a day later, while eating at Siam Dish, we were offered a choice between white and brown rice, and we chose brown: but instead of the usual beige-brown basmati, it was the gorgeous, deep purple-black rice I was hoping for. (And oh, is it ever good with Thai food!)

"Japonica," a name used in botany so heavily, is the name of the most beautiful rice I have ever consumed. It's a mix of red, brown, and black grains, all of which are finely detailed. It cooks in a reasonable period of time, with the water turning purple, and the grains taking on a more uniformly deep, dark color in by the time it is done. It cooks to a tender texture, but holds its shape well. (The cooking ratio is 1 part rice to 2.25 parts water.) It is the best rice I have ever eaten, and now it's going to be difficult for me to eat "normal" rice again. I've replaced all ordinary white and brown rice (even basmati) in my house with Japonica.

Now waiting patiently in my cupboards: Chinese black rice and Tibetan red rice.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:30 PM

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