Jay and I went on vacation to Hawaii last fall and I couldn’t help but notice the white rice on every breakfast menu while I desperately scanned the options looking for potatoes, hash browns or any type of spuds. Nothing. Mahalo a lot, Hawaii. Jay was thrilled because he loves rice. When he was a little kid his sweet little full-blooded Japanese mother would serve him a bowl of rice, splash some soy sauce on it and then crack an egg over the top. No, the rice wasn’t hot enough to cook the egg, it just oozed its raw egg self all over the rice. He said he liked it. I threw up in my mouth a smidge. It sounds so nasty he may have to write his own childhood food blog.
Anyway, rice everywhere in Hawaii. That’s fine, when in Rome, eat white rice—and Spam. Jay was in heaven with the Spam, pulled pork, short ribs, rice, noodles and of course, the beach. Growing up in San Diego, he loves the beach and lived at Mission Beach as a bona fide surf dude in the ‘80s. On our Waikiki vacation he body-surfed Waimea Bay and Sandy Beach. I body-surfed the tide pools and ended up with a pancake-sized bruise on my ass. But hey! I remembered something as I came to in the tide pool—I do like white rice for breakfast! How could I have forgotten?! In fact as a kid, I ate it every chance I got after a night of Chinese take-out. You know when you order Chinese food you can pretty much rest assured that there will be no leftover pork-fried rice to stink up the fridge; however, you can almost always count on leftover white rice. As a child, that was a good thing for me. I didn’t really care to eat it for dinner, as you may recall from “Gourmet Top Ramen.” My experience with Chinese food was the soggy, fatty sweet and sour pork my family loved. I would probably offer to babysit the heathen neighbor children on Chinese take-out night. But finding the leftover white rice in the fridge the next morning was a joyous occasion.
I don’t know where the idea to eat rice for breakfast originated back then. I was only about 8, so I’m fairly certain I never jet-setted to Hawaii on summer vacation. I imagine I was inspired after seeing my Grandpa Smothers eat white bread in a bowl of milk. But that’s just wrong. That’s like a nasty flour milkshake if you ask me. But my rice delicacy was heavenly. I’d put leftover rice in a pot with some milk on the stove (What’s that? Microwave?! We didn’t have no stinking microwave in the ’70s). When half of the rice was cooked and the other half had burned to the bottom of the pot, I’d scoop out the part that was still white into a big cereal bowl. Then I’d pour cinnamon, sugar and milk all over it. Yum. Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, and who cares what my sisters say, they don’t know about white rice–though they made fun of me for eating it. Perhaps that’s due to the Milk Container incident of ’75.
Yeah, we didn’t have no stinking garbage disposal back then either. My Mom kept an old milk carton next to the sink where the contents from the sink strainer went to die. I don’t know why, since the garbage can was only five feet away. That milk carton would sit there a week or so, and then get tossed out into the trash. She was quite resourceful. However in the summertime (and no, we didn’t have no stinkin’ central air conditioning either) that milk container would ripen quickly. One time I had dish duty and was emptying the sink strainer contents into that container. That milk carton was so disgusting; it was full of nasty stuff and some rice that was in there got on my hand. At least I thought it was rice until my little sister, Melissa, informed me there were maggots on my hand. I about broke my arm at the elbow flinging it into the sink to get to that running water. Ah…so that’s where the hand-washing comes from. OCD mystery explained.