Rice is more than just starch
The role of rice in the Philippines has been compared to the role of potatoes in America. Americans eat about 126 pounds of potatoes per person every year. The average Filipino eats about 205 pounds of rice in a year. That isn’t a huge difference but what is different is how our cultures view their primary starches.
Americans are usually thought of as being “meat and potatoes” people. Classic meal combinations for Americans are a burger and fries, steak and potatoes, sausage and hash browns and so on. We can go without the potato on the plate, though.
To a Filipino, however, a meal isn’t a meal without rice.
My wife Menchu makes great tinola manok, Filipino chicken soup. She serves it in a bowl that she puts on the table between us and serves rice on plates with it. The idea is to scoop some soup out onto the rice and eat both. She serves ginisang monggo (mung bean) soup the same way. You have to have that mound of rice, you see, even with your soup!
Rice every day
When I was growing up, rice came out of a box. It was “Minute Rice” or “Uncle Ben’s” and my family ate it topped with butter and sugar. (I can hear my Asian friends gagging.) It wasn’t until I moved to Seattle and spent some time with a Japanese-American woman who grew up in Hawaii that I began to eat rice “normally”, plain and covered with white.
Once I knew that Menchu and I were going to be married, I began buying rice in the big, 25-lb. bags and cooking it more often. Once she got here, the transition to eating rice every day was smooth for me. Sometimes, though, I don’t feel like eating rice with my meal and everyone at the table looks at me like I’m ill or something. For the most part, I eat rice every day. I understand, though, how weird eating rice every day might seem to other Americans and how something as simple as a scoop of rice can complicate a relationship.
So what do you think? Rice every day?
Rice photo is © visualpanic and used under Creative Commons license.