Like so many people my age, my parents lived out their early years in the stultifying culinary atmosphere of the 1950s, and went away to college at just the time that pizza and Mexican restaurants were beginning to happen. As a result, they’re suckers for ethnic restaurants and my own childhood involved lots of them: Greek, Indian, Russian, Korean, German, as well as Chinese and Mexican and the not-exotic-at-all Italian. Funnily enough, the only category of food that I can’t contemplate eating are the organ meats that my parents were raised on–liver and onions, anyone, or cold tongue, or perhaps a fried brain sandwich? Eugh. No thanks.
The hallmark of my own generation, I suppose, is that we feel motivated to replicate these ethnic dishes in our own kitchens. Now, my parents weren’t free of that. When my mother was pregnant with me she took a Chinese cooking course, and stir-fry was a semiweekly dinner while I was growing up. In summer 2000, when I was home from college for a few weeks, we ordered a huge box of bulk spices and dals, and had a field day with a Madhur Jaffrey book. I know all about making panir, and popping mustard seeds in hot ghee.
My parents aren’t as susceptible to novelty items as I am, though. Maybe it’s because they were raised by Depression-Era parents and I was raised by Boomer parents. If I see a grocery item in a funny color, I must have it! If I hear about a new kind of cheese, I must taste it! These are impulses my parents are capable of squashing. Alas, not I. Thus, I own a rainbow of colored rices from Super Target: black, red, and this green “bamboo rice.”
It tastes just like any other rice, perhaps slightly aromatic. It does have a very lovely color, both dry and cooked, and harmonized nicely with the green snap peas and white mushrooms. The original plan for this stir-fry had been to have white squid for protein, but the squid… well… they were left over from my meze party, and let’s say that thawed squid doesn’t keep in the fridge for a week, and leave it at that. I used shrimp instead, so the stir-fry was tri-color instead of bi-color. I also used an experimental garlic sauce of hot water, corn starch, and five cloves of garlic pressed. With no soy sauce, one has to season this, also.
Result: three perfectly acceptable lunches. Mission accomplished.