Having food poisoning for the past two days has caused me to revert to my white-starch-eating childhood ways. Get this: yesterday I subsisted on only animal crackers, saltines and some white rice. And not the good kind of regular rice either. I bought Uncle Ben’s Instant Rice. *gasp*
All this drama because I just learned the difference between the good stuff and the processed stuff. You see, I’ve been eating only delicious wild rice blends for the past few years because I just love the taste and texture. And to me, as long as I plan a bit in advance, it’s every bit as easy to make as the instant. Bring water to boil, add chicken bouillon, add rice, cover and simmer, forget. After 45 minutes it’s done and soooo delicious. I can make a lot in advance and it keeps really well in the fridge.
To the left is an Amazon affiliate link for the type of chicken bouillon I use with my rice that makes it taste AWESOME. And it’s so convenient to use.
But plain old instant rice. *shakes her head*
I swear, I made this stuff today and the ONLY good thing about it was that it was fast. Because it had been so long since I’ve had anything but brown or wild rice, I had no basis for comparison back when I used to eat this stuff. But just a few bites in and I was convinced – instant white rice is completely worthless.
I mean really, I’m not trying to be a snob or anything. But now I just know from having had good quality rice for so long. It’s like a Mercedes-Benz vs. a Kia. Or like an iPhone vs. Zack Morris’ cell phone from Saved by the Bell. Get used to the good stuff and you really can’t go back.
So it made me wonder, why is there be such a big difference between the two? What is different in the processing that allows it to cook so fast and yet taste so terrible? Was this just another case of “Americanized” food created to be fast and easy without regard to quality? Well, in a word, yes. The difference between the two is that regular rice only undergoes the “milling” processes that all rice goes through in order to be edible. This just takes it from the seed on the original plant down to the edible insides. The amount of milling decides how much nutrition will be left over, as you probably know. So for example, brown rice is milled one less step than white rice, which preserves some of its nutritional value.
But instant rice, on the other hand, has been processed like this: milled from a seed on the plant down to white rice, then fully cooked and then dehydrated. This process removes virtually all nutrition that the rice could have contained along with most of the flavor and almost all of the texture. What you’re left with is a mushy, shell of a rice grain that has practically no redeeming qualities. It is even more expensive than regular rice – in effect, you’re getting charged for them to cook it for you beforehand, and in the process remove any positive qualities that it once contained. Except that sometimes they “enrich” the rice with nutrients like they do to white bread. Basically saying, “Okay, we’ve removed all the texture and taste but then we’ve spray-painted it with nutrients so it’s perfect to eat now.”
Maybe you can hear the sarcasm in my words, but I just couldn’t believe what it tasted like after not having had it for so many years. I mean, it was literally worthless. I threw out the leftovers along with what remained uncooked in the box. The only thing that makes me feel better about its invention is that it was first used for the military where this sort of quick preparation makes practical sense. But this is not the type of food that should continue to exist for mass consumption. Please, my dear Reader, do yourself a huge favor and invest a few extra minutes to plan ahead and prepare nutritious real rice for yourself and your family the next time you cook. It is every bit as easy as instant rice and 50 times better.
**** This has been a Heartfelt Public Service Announcement from The Watering Mouth ****