Monday, March 24, 2008
The Right Rice
One of the only-funny-if-you’re-there running gags in the yellojkt household is that whenever I make a pot of rice I say really loud, “Ooops, we’re out of rice!” It’s funny because we never are and heads would roll if we were. As much as I prefer pasta and potatoes as a starch, I am consistently outvoted in favor of rice for most meals. If the large Tupperware style tub in the pantry runs low, I just top it off from the twenty-five pound bag in the hall closet.
However, the other day that bag was empty and all the rice we had on hand was in the cupboard. Saturday, since we were in Northern Virginia (for the Vonnegut play) anyways, I decided it was a good time for a trip through Eden Center, the center of the greater DC area Vietnamese community. An entire strip mall development except for the K-Mart anchor has been completely turned over to Vietnamese run business: restaurants, jewelers, travel agents, video stores, nail salon suppliers, and so on. All the stores have mostly Vienamese signs in the windows and cater to first and second generation immigrants.
Our destination is usually a small grocery store that stocks Asian specialties. Here they carry about five different brands of rice. The brand we get is Double Golden Fish®, or as we call it, The One With Two Goldfish On It. It is Thai jasmine rice, which after years of experimentation is the type and style we have settled on. About every six months we have to find ourselves in either Falls Church or Wheaton, the two places we have found that stock this particular brand. Once I bought a brand with a big elephant on it from the massive Korean grocery store in Security Square Mall, but even though it was jasmine rice, it wasn’t the right rice.
A trip to Eden Center also means getting some bánh mì and bubble tea at Song Que. Song Que is the small deli/sandwich shop associated with the over-rated What White People Like Huong Que restaurant (Viet Royale next door is less pretentious, cheaper, and more "authentic"). Even the minor charms of Song Que have gotten out to the general public and it is always packed, often by people that don't quite know what to order.
Bánh mì are small baguette sandwiches that have a choice of Vietnamese style meats topped with condiments such as pickled carrots, cilantro, and jalapeños for less than three bucks. The bubble teas, which come in exotic flavors such as durian and jackfruit, cost more than the sandwiches.
My wife always adds in some soups to go and gets some brightly colored gelatinous sticky sweet desserts for herself. Loaded up, we made our back to Ellicott City knowing that for the next several months my cries of “We’re out of rice” will cause sympathetic cry-wolf smiles instead of cries of concern.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: Triple choice (pick one or all): What staple do you buy in bulk? What brand of food are devotedly loyal to? What is your favorite ethnic specialty?