A staple of the Asian community.
It is known by many names; Beras in Bahasa Melayu, Riso in Italian, Kome in Japanese but my favourite – Arisi in the Tamil language, my mother tongue. I love how it sounds almost similar to the word Arasi, which means, the Queen in the Tamil language.
We only pay attention to the outcome but most of us ignore the hard work that has gone into the preparation of a creation.
Everything is easy these days. We go to a local supermarket, pick up a bag of rice, come home, cook and eat. Some even have it easier – just pick up a cooked packet of rice, heat it up and eat. Work is done!
Have you wondered where the rice you eat comes from? The painstaking labour that has gone into putting that polished white gems on your plate. It tastes good, correct? The many transformations it takes and the dishes it could be cooked into, from the pilau to biriyani, to puffed rice and pudding. Even widely used in cosmetics and the beauty industry.
The actual process begins in a village, thousands of miles away from our comfortable couches and air-conditioned rooms. In the fields of India, Thailand, Vietnam, Madagascar, Philippines, Japan and Malaysia. In scorching heat – planting paddy or rice, the crops then harvested and dried, threshing; a process where rice is separated from the straw, then distributed and milled and polished, packaged and sold. Months of sweat and blood that we conveniently acknowledge to ignore.
As I wrote my first recipe on my blog today, I realised the fond memories of having rice with my meals. It was not the eating but the appreciation to hundreds of farmers across the world who made it possible for me to still take a handful of rice which was first introduced to me by my Mother, as food.
And I remember my late Father always reminded us not to waste a grain, not to step on rice, not to throw food. But also a bit of cooked rice on a plate was kept aside and ate with a short prayer before the start of the meal, to say thank you. Was it a Thank you to God for bringing this food to us? I haven’t seen God but I believe what they meant by God as those who made it possible for you and me to have what we have, considered the works of greater humanity. The presence of God or something more in this Universe felt through gratitude. To leave aside one’s own pain and discomfort as a service to humanity for the comfortable lives of others.
You see, what we can easily take for granted is something that another works hard for, and most times just for the same handful for them and their loved ones. Something that we should all be grateful for, especially where people are chasing after material gains rather than what matters most.
So, here I am sharing a bit of love and a lot of gratitude for the Asian farmers for keeping me alive and the memories of my cultural background to go on.
I hope you appreciate them as much as I do and try the recipes.
Lots of Love XX