Posted by: Rachael | April 7, 2008

a simple bowl of rice

I lifted a spoonful of rice and ate it. I thought about what a wonderful thing it is to eat rice. First you let the smell drift up in lazy spirals, sweet and elusive; then you look at the color of it, softer and whiter than the surrounding steam. Carefully you put a spoonful of it in your mouth, and feel each grain separate on your tongue, firm and warm. Then you taste it – the rich and yet delicate sweetness of it. How different it was from that gritty red rice we’d been rationed to, the last three years, gruel so bland and watery that it slipped right down your throat before you could even taste it. No, this was real rice, whole moist grains I could chew and savor.”
~page 21 The Clay Marble by Minfing Ho
written from a refugee camp after the Vietnamese liberation of Cambodia

This was the girl’s first meal after over a week on the road, after three years of Khmer Rouge regime. She ate two bowls of plain rice, appreciating it so deeply, before taking a little of the dried fish fried in garlic and chillies. We’re going to have this same dinner tomorrow. I wonder if we will appreciate our dried fish in a way we haven’t before – they’ve been sitting in the pantry, and their brothers that Dadda caught have been in the freezer for far too long. We just don’t get excited about them. Maybe this time.
If not, there’ll be rice.



  1. […] ikan bilis of sorts Take one bag of dried anchovies, throw in a pot, cover with water and simmer for five minutes. Drain in a colander. Meanwhile, fry up LOTS and LOTS of chopped garlic and the two last chillies from the garden. Add the fish and try not to worry about them looking up at you. Serve with rice as per the last post. […]

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