My host mother was a terrible cook. In their house a meal that was ‘bon prepare’ was rice and beans with no rocks, which we rarely had. I’ll give her some credit though, picking out all the rocks and unbroken rice is hard work. I would know, I’ve been doing it myself these days.
When rice is separated from the stalk, it has a husk on it. That is pounded until it breaks, then some of the husks are winnowed from the rice. At this point I buy it in the market. When I get it, I have to finish getting out the broken husks, try to find all the unbroken ones (they look like rice, only browner and pointier) and the rocks. One unfortunate part of the process is that the ones that get missed are the ones that survived the pounding phase. That means natural selection is working against my teeth and only the strongest ones survive to be bitten by me. So far, I have not let a rock or husk into my rice, but I’ve got plenty of time to chip teeth later.
It is amazing all the things I have learned how to do. If I want peanut-butter (and I do) I buy raw peanuts, roast them, peel them and smash them with a mortar and pestle as big as I am. I buy coffee green and it gets the same roasting and pounding treatment. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of coffee, but I think I will soon. Just two days ago (9/4/08) I asked my friend where in town I could get some cinnamon; he took me to his parent’s farm and informed me that these were cinnamon trees. We peeled the bark and it is now drying in my room.
You wouldn’t know until you tried it just how much work it takes to get a good cup of rice.