Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rice Pudding

Rice pudding may seem like an odd remembrance for an Easter Sunday post. I wonder about the timing myself but let's try to work it out.

When I was growing up, rice normally showed up in two ways, as a stuffing in cabbage rolls or as rice pudding. There were only a handful of times that rice made it into a meal. There were a few times where we bought a fried rice kit that included canned sauce. It was Dainty Fried Rice, I believe, and I don't think I've seen it since. Another time involved Minute Rice and orange juice from that commercial and another was a Rice and Sauce side dish.

In all, rice was second potato. It didn't have a place at the table unless it was covered in salt. Otherwise, its time in the cabbage roll and rice pudding was all that was needed. Strangely, it was my dad that liked rice pudding, even though rice wasn't his thing. In his later years, he grew to love chicken fried rice but then, not so much.

He made both a rice pudding and bread pudding from scratch. You add custard and bake the thing. That was all there was to it. It required for us to make rice especially to have 'leftovers'. His was a dry thing where you could feel the individual grains in your mouth. There was a sugary eggy taste that you get from Portuguese tarts (natal) or Chinese egg tarts. The top would be sunken in with cinnamon liberally topping it. We would have huge, deep pieces served with milk. The raisins would keep the blandness that was broken only with vanilla a bright punch. It grew to be one of my favourites.

My mom had tried various recipes including a creamy one but this was the winner recipe.

When I was courting my wife, we went out on Good Friday looking for rice pudding because somehow I had got it into my head that any wake for Jesus included liquor and rice pudding. We spent a tiring day looking for the food, came back and had our first kiss. In actuality, it was a reunion kiss as we had dated seven years to the day back and it was my birthday. We go married the next year on April 20th. The rice pudding we had that day was Kozy shack pudding. It was more on the creamy side but the raisins cut the taste.

Along the way, we discovered kheer, the Indian version of rice pudding that is creamy and in comparison, spicy, redolent with cinnamon, cardamom and faint tastes of other spices dependent on the chef. I fell in love with the idea of the buffet rice pudding. It is really different than the one that I grew up with. But our tastes change and very few places make that almost dry pudding that requires cream or milk.

In all this time, I have not tried to make rice pudding and I wonder why? This was the first year that I bought rice pudding for Easter and coincidentally, my anniversary. It has been thirteen years since that fateful rice pudding expedition and I wish I could recapture the moment of falling in love again.

Maybe, I'll go and make some rice pudding.

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