Monday, November 14, 2011


I never realized how much I loved rice till I started dating my boyfriend. We see each other nearly every day and always at meal times. (Or maybe we're just always hungry.) If we see each other for seven straight days, I request sushi six times. Fresh raw fish is delightful, no question. But I most crave the sweet, salty, acidic, vinegar-dressed sticky rice that, pressed together into a soft white pillow, still retains every individual grain's character of slightly chewy texture. The rice sticks together but each grain stands separate and strong on its own like a marching army on the thin red line of seaweed, tuna, avocado, cucumber or whatever your sushi tongue desires.

Sometimes, fish is a mere accompaniment—not the other way around. I'm often satisfied with my sushi combo order, yet I find myself staring longingly at my boyfriend's bowl of rice, dotted with sesame seeds. I'm internally appalled at its abandonment for beef teriyaki instead. Historically regarded as poor person's food, rice is often neglected for its mistaken blandness or feared for its needless carb counts. But great sushi rice is rich man's food. Expert sushi chefs spend five years learning how to cook perfect rice and blend it with their master's tried-and-true balanced vinegar mixture to moisten, sweeten and elevate the individual grains to thousands of tiny edible gems. The gems glisten and beckon me to consume every last morsel—though it's not technically mine to consume.

"Can I have your rice?" I ask, though my plate is cleaned and the boyfriend, twice my petite size, could easily eat more.

"Yeah, sure. Go ahead," he replies sincerely.

I greedily gobble and stab my chopsticks at every last piece. Sometimes this rice isn't the same as what they use for nigiri and maki but I must have it anyway. Because leaving one grain of rice behind is an insult to poor and rich alike that I just can't tolerate.

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