Brown rice is one of the great foods. Nutritionally outstanding, complex in flavour and putatively versatile. Yet something about it just doesn’t make it appealing to eat come dinnertime…
Summer is obviously a happy time for most. Long hot days, delicious fresh produce and even the odd dip in the pool. But like any season it certainly has its bugbears. Mine most recently has been more bugs than bears. Mosquitos, flies and knats are all common summer annoyances. And then there is my little cat. Every day she brings at least four lizards in from the garden. She plays with them for hours on end tormenting them. But like most cats she isn’t tormenting these small reptiles for food or nourishment, merely for some ancient ritual game of ‘cat and mouse’.
Being a carnivore I can hardly judge my cat for her ‘repscalian’ ways. But then again, I do try to adhere to the ‘eat what you kill and make the most of what is killed’ philosophy. While I can’t yet bring myself to eat eyeballs, I do find myself being fed up to them with my cat’s reluctance to stick to hunting things she will actually eat. But I guess that cats will be cats.
Then the thought occurred to me that maybe small wriggly things are much to a cat what brown rice is to me. Most weeks you will find me cooking up batches of brown rice in the knowledge that is it both extremely healthy and has a brilliant complex nutty flavour. Yet still I do not actually eat the brown rice. Something about it always sends me reaching for something else in the fridge or pantry to eat come dinnertime.
The funny thing is, that when I actually do sit down to a bowl of brown rice I nearly always enjoy it. I guess this is true of most whole foods. The body just wants to eat the refined, easy access foods – much like you will always choose to take the lift over running up the stairs even if you know that you’ll feel better after the exercise. I am not sure how this part of my philosophical story applies to my cat, but I guess in some way she too knows it is best for her to hunt for her food, but when push comes to shove she would rather eat that factory muck rather than a slimy garden lizard.
But here my story diverges. How do I get my cat to stop tormenting poor lizards yet get myself to eat more brown rice? And then a thought occurred to me. Maybe it is the very fact that brown rice has a complex flavour that is the very problem. Think about it. We tend to eat rice as a base to go with other sauces and flavours. We will pour curries and stews over it. Stir fry it with strong sauces. We will lavish stock, butter and Parmesan cheese onto it to make a flavoursome risotto. All so we can impart flavour onto the refined (relatively) tasteless mass that is white rice. And white rice is brilliant for this. Don’t for one minute think I am putting down this most marvelous ingredient.
But brown rice is different. Brown rice needs to be treated as an equal to any sauce, meat or flavour that you want to match it with. It’s nutty flavour needs to be put to use and not masked by other flavours. Brown rice needs to be eaten as the star of the dish instead of the carbohydrate accompaniment. Brown rice is not some floozy that can be put on the plate to carry other flavour. It needs to stand apart, on its own as the grown up ingredient it is. I think I may just have solved my brown rice riddle!
Now off I go to cook up a pot of brown rice to see what I can do with it. And hey, if my theory is wrong and my brown rice still remains uneaten despite my best efforts, I can always throw balls of it at my cat when I see her out in the garden ready to pounce upon a poor unsuspecting lizard.