Grains of Rice and Salt and Sand

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Grace Glynn
March 25, 2013

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who are deeply opinionated about how rice should be cooked, and those who are not.  Those who measure out every grain, with a perfect ratio of rice to water, and set a timer for twenty minutes just when it begins to simmer, and those who throw caution and measuring cups to the wind and hope for the best.  It all depends on how your parents cooked rice, and it so happens that my childhood lessons in grain preparation placed me quite early on into the former category of intensely finicky and particular.

Sometimes it’s hard being a passionate advocate for the Correct Preparation of Rice.  In my adult life I’ve nearly lost several friendships over the hotly-debated subject, my strong preference for precision causing small brawls with roommates on several occasions as we prepare communal stir-frys.  Because for such a simple preparation, rice-cooking includes a lot of room for error.  Stir it too much, it gets sticky.  Add too much water and it’s soggy, but too little water and it’s burnt to the bottom of the pot.  I like to be sure that my rice will be perfectly fluffy, neither sticky nor soggy nor burnt.

It is for the following reason that my time in Ecuador has been blissfully free of rice-related conflict: My host mom is incredibly skilled at cooking rice.  I’m not quite sure how she does it (I think the process involves large quantities of oil and salt), but she should enter some sort of contest for best-cooked cereal grains.  Even the presentation is superb: it arrives on the side of my plate in a pyramid shape, like a perfect nutritious sandcastle.

The family recently took me along on a weekend camping trip to a remote beach reachable only by boat.  Here lay the real test of my host mother’s abilities, and she rose to the challenge.  Sandra built a fire in the little portable pit, shielding it from the strong breeze coming from the bay where I snorkeled with twenty golden rays, and she conjured up another flawless pot of rice.  We ate it with fried plantain and meat and red onion, sitting on blankets with our feet in the sun-warmed sand.

“Un foto, por favor, en La Cocina Moderna,” said Sandra, my host mother, as she prepared lunch at our tropical campsite.


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Grace Glynn

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Grace is a junior at Connecticut College with a major in botany. She grew up on the coast of Maine and looks forward to leaving its harsh winter for the equatorial Galapagos Islands. Grace&rsquo;s interests include paleontology, backpacking, folk music, and fermented foods. Join her as she heads to Ecuador for the semester!</span></p>

Home University:
Connecticut College
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