“I used to be on a cooking show…”

“Why isn’t there… just… a Mexican rice?

A skinny blonde lady with a ponytail in sweats is exasperated, standing next to me at the rice aisle in Amish Market is exasperated to the point of  laughter.

“Are you seeing this?  Is it just me?”

I can’t speak, I’m laughing to myself.

There was basmati, texmati, arborio, japonica, red rice, sweet brown, long brown, sushi rice, brown jasmine, white jasmine… there were mixes with lentils, with red bean… there were instant yellow rice, instant pilaf…. but no instant Mexican.

I grew up eating Calrose Niko Niko; it still tastes best to me.  They have Kohuko Rose here, and that’s pretty close.  Back in Shanghai, I started buying different grains separately for my own mix that impressed my houseguests.  Marco was lined up to inherit my remaining rice mix when it was time to leave; he got a little defensive when C suggested leaving it for the ayi.

Anyway, so there I was at Amish Market, finding stuff I couldn’t find at Whole Paycheck (including corn tortillas, btw, I’ll see if they cut the mustard).  And I was trying to plan my own rice strategy… should I stay true to my sticky rice past?  Should I keep doing the SpanishPod Mexican Rice that Leo taught me, that I’d been doing for the last month?  Is it time to revive the mix?  What about these ready mixes?  (of course the instant rices were out of the question).

Anyway, I was contemplating my rice strategy when blonde ponytail shows up asking about instant Mexican rice.  And I didn’t know what to say, because I’ve been realizing lately the kind of stuff that is and is not available in downtown Manhattan, and here were were in the Amish Market, and something as simple of instant Mexican rice really shouldn’t be hard to find.

“It’s really pretty easy to make, you know,” I offer.  She looks at me like I’m crazy.  “Just buzz some tomatoes and onions together in a blender, then brown the rice in some oil…”

“I think you just lost me,” she says.  Yikes.  Maybe I’m a snob, but if you can’t toast some rice, then maybe you don’t deserve SpanishPod Mexican rice.

“Ok,” I said.  “It’s just funny that you asked me, I used to be on a cooking show… it was in Spanish though.”

“Yah, ok, thanks for your help.”  And she left.

I took a minute to look at the rice again, and decided to go with a  red and brown ready mix, with lentils.

4 thoughts on ““I used to be on a cooking show…”

  1. It’s nice to see that being helpful and friendly is still so richly rewarded in NYC. Once in a while, it pays dividends, as long as you continue to shoulder the abuse from those who don’t deserve the effort.

    SpanishPod rice is quite good. Please divulge your mix though, because if I can’t get my wife away from plain white rice, there’s going to be trouble.


  2. Hey JeffB,
    Ooh,being helpful and friendly is another topic I have to write about… maybe tonight.

    As far as the mix goes, I modeled my mix off of Mogami 8 wrote about it a while ago. Basically I got a big bag of brown, and then went to the bulk section and got little bags of japonica black, red, barley, etc. When I got home I dumped it into a big plastic container, and voila, rice mix.

    JeffB, what kind of plain white rice is your wife using? I would have a tough time eating basmati, jasmine, or chinese rice every day, but I can eat korean or japanese people rice 3 times a day. Also, I have to ask if you’re a ‘saucer’… do you like to eat your rice mixed with some kind of sauce or gravy, because that will color your rice eating experience.

    I like sauce as much as the next guy, but I make a point not to drown my rice: I keep it apart and then dip clump of unadulterated rice into the sauce. For teriyaki, I ask for no sauce altogether, as it’s mostly sugar anyway.


    • That sounds like a nice tasty mix. I don’t know what she’s using for white rice, but I’m sure it’s nothing exotic. It wouldn’t surprise me if the label on the bag said “extra bland”. I do give her props for how she cooks it, she makes perfect rice.

      To her credit, tonight was a good brown rice so she must have read my mind (again). That’s what happens after 20 years together. Note to self: start thinking more in Spanish.

      Usually, I don’t like to sauce up my rice. But I do like mixes of different kinds of rice; some different textures and flavors are always welcome.



  3. I can totally picture myself standing there bewildered in front of the many rice choices, wondering what is what. Even harder than buying yogurt or shampoo. On the other hand I would have been all over some helpful cooking advice. “Just a minute, let me grab a pen!”


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