I last posted about our Japanese Spring Fling.
Everything looked nice, people had fun, and the pictures turned out good.
Behind the scenes all was not as it was supposed to be.
Our speaker said the Japanese are very picky about their rice. Apparently ordinary white rice isn't good enough. She had ordered special rice from an online Asian store and said that it would come from California.
A half hour before the luncheon started I poured two thirds of the rice bag into a pan of water. I noticed tiny black specks but assumed that since this rice was different the specks were supposed to be there.
Meanwhile I got nervous that the rice wouldn't get done in time. I know a watched pot never boils so I wondered how much I could stare at the pan, willing it to cook, without impeding progress.
We flew around the kitchen attending to last minute details. I took several bites trying to tell if the rice was cooked. Finally I asked my friend Pat if she thought the rice was done.
Pat said in a concerned whisper, "There's little black things in the rice."
I assured her, "Oh those. They were there when I poured the rice out of the bag. It's California rice. It's okay."
She looked into the pot unconvinced so I asked, "Are you afraid the rice is burnt?
Pat smiled, "No, I'm afraid those are little bugs."
We were down to the wire on time with no plan B, so only desperation and denial could explain my behavior. "Nah, it's just California rice. I've had bags of wheat berries before when I've had to pick pieces of chaff out. Just mix green onions in so the black pieces won't be obvious."
Pat politely resisted so we asked the person who bought the rice if the black things were supposed to be there. Jan (mid 50's like me) got her reading glasses, took one look in the pot, and said, "I see feet."
I was still unwilling to concede. After all, rice was one of the main components of the meal. We couldn't have Japanese Curry without rice to pour it over. I grabbed the rice bag and looked inside at the remaining uncooked rice.
Then looked back up astonished. "The black specks are moving."
So what do mature well-adjusted people do in an emergency?
Laugh. Of course.
Pat suggested maybe it was our fault since the last time we were together in a kitchen her dog licked a big spot of frosting off my ugly birthday dessert.
It was now five minutes before start time. Jan lived closeby so we asked if she had any more rice at home.
Nope. Oh to have a big box of Minute Rice in the cupboard.
One sweet young girl noticed that the bugs were mostly around the outside of the cooked rice and suggested we spoon from the middle. After five minutes of picking out good rice and only having one cup, we abandoned that idea.
Grabbing at straws, I suggested that since boiling the rice had killed the bugs, we should just chop up green onions and mix them in. I looked through the cupboards for Parsley flakes, hoping people couldn't tell the difference between green leaves and dead black bugs. (I'll understand if people never want to eat at my house again.)
My fellow cooks vetoed that idea. Jan suggested we wash the remaining uncooked rice REALLY good. She said it's like panning for gold. The rice is heavier and sinks to the bottom and the dead bugs float right to the top.
Sure enough. Who knew?
We threw out the first batch and started cooking the second. Buying time we rearranged the program.
|Jan and I watching the rearranged program while appearing cool, calm, and collected as the second batch cooks.|
Jan thanked the women for their patience, explaining that the first batch of rice hadn't turned out, and now there wasn't a lot of rice so to please go easy on it. There was probably enough for everyone to get a couple small spoonfuls.
I was finally able to relax and enjoy the rest of the program but us cooks giggled every time we looked at each other, certain that we'll never be able to look at rice in the same way again.
To add insult to injury, Rick was being servant-hearted and took out the garbage. As he rounded the corner with a big white garbage bag full of trash, the bag popped a hole and a good portion of the buggy rice fell on the floor. I looked over to see Jan and Rick on their knees putting globs of rice back in the bag.
Someone got up to help and was politely shooed away, since the cooks had agreed to not divulge what had caused the demise of "the first batch." Whenever people asked what had happened to "the first batch," we gave polite evasive answers. So I will most likely be voted off the cooking committee for spilling the beans.
So now, as Paul Harvey would say, you know the rest of the story.
Just so I know this doesn't only happen to me, anyone else have any cooking rice or food flops when company's coming stories?