A few evenings a week, my dinner preparation begins to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. The rice cooker comes alive, its reassuring song ensures that whatever happens in the next 45 minutes, at least there will be perfectly cooked rice.
I see rice as an anchor food, something to build a meal around. When I’m sick or sad, a big pat of butter is the only garnish I need. When I’m tired and exhausted, I might add a fried egg and a dollop of crunchy chili. When I have more energy, it’s a side dish of Vietnamese braised pork, the base of a salad or a complement to a homemade chicken soup.