This post is very much different from conventional. Here I am, swallowing my pride, apologizing to a commodity that does not even have a nervous system or any mechanism to respond to most environmental shifts, with the exception of boiling water and microbial growth (although this microbial growth is strictly due to microorganisms acting upon it, not the item reacting itself). Just to clarify, why am I apologizing to an object and why is it white rice? What did I ever do to white rice? What did it ever do to me? Well, nothing explicitly violent or aggressive on either end, but I never welcomed white rice with open arms as I became more engrossed in the health and wellness culture–specifically, diet culture. Whelp, here we go:
Dear White Rice,
You have been serving a crucial role in my ethnic culture for multiple generations, fueling my ancestors throughout the migration of South-South-South Chinese to a new country, the creation of Vietnam, French colonization, the devastating Vietnam War, the wave of immigration to America, and the gradual economic development of Vietnam to this day. Your composition has provided an abundance of quick energy for the heavy labor, combat, and mental drive to persist through animosity after animosity. Moreover, your carbon footprint is so diminutive in comparison to any other animal product on the universe–heck, even other plant foods such as soy and almonds (go rice milk and yogurt)!
With that being said, no words can describe how sorry I am for demonizing you for years a little before I became sixteen years-old. The memories are easy to recollect: I turned my nose away from you at every restaurant, every family reunion, and whenever you arrived at dinner. My treatment towards you resembled that of a Dursley to a Potter, an Ozai to a Zuko, you understand the gist. It was thanks to my personal research and fears of becoming fat or gaining a pimple on my face when the disdain ignited. I do not remember a specific “a-ha!” moment where you suddenly appeared as the villain, but perhaps it was an amalgamation of articles, videos, Instagram captions, and forums that bullied you over and over again that persuaded me otherwise.
A few counterparts of yours–brown rice, black rice, and wild rice–became my new friends. I did not quite hang out with them as much as the beloved sweet potato I call my foodie soul mate (though let’s be honest, I have a PLETHORA of foodie soul mates), but I treated these whole grain rices a WHOLE lot more nicely than you. If it was too light, I didn’t like. If it was dark, I loved it a lot. You were often excluded from my plates, or strictly limited in small quantities when I just wanted a small piece–essentially, your presence was only based on the agenda of my terms that day. Was that truly fair for both of us?
In utmost transparency, my distaste originated from seeing a part of myself in you that I despised and had not made peace with yet. Nothing was your fault. All the tension between us were imposed from my issues and mine alone. I was a toxic gaslighter that constantly questioned your purpose when you have encouraged the development of cultures, communities, technology, societal, and culinary flourishment. Your composure and your whole character complement everything around you, whether they be heat, sweetness, spice, sourness, bitterness, abrasiveness, or fluidity. You have united families, aided businesses, and brought people up from the deepest despair. Please allow me to give you credit where it is due, because there is a plethora of it.
Now, you are one of my absolute favorite grains. Your whole-grain counterparts are still very close to me, but you hold a very special place in my heart. You are welcome any time and anywhere for as much as you’d like. Even though I do not always want 100% of your company in a sitting, I remember to preserve you in a comfortable spot where you can peacefully rest. In my mind, you are the archetype of the foundation of countless cultures and what has energized many to succeed. This whole letter might be silly because you do not feel pain, but the least that I can do is treat you as my ancestors would: with respect. Regardless of how others view you, your purpose is to fuel as a food and balance as a culinary element of a dish. Thank you for everything. Keep on triumphing in sushi, burritos, paella, jambalaya, fried rice, biryani, and with curries, stir-fries, soups, and many more!
“All foods are friends, but like friends, there are some that you want to spend more time with than others.” (I think the quote is by Renee McGregor, but Natacha Oceane refers this quote in one of her videos!)