In a soft bowl of rice with too much water a spoon sinks in like quicksand. Congee was for when I had no teeth and chewing wasn’t an option. It’s a bowl of toddler comfort and memories I can barely grasp.
Yellow tinted medium grain and no bounce in its chew was the Chinese takeout fried rice that always came to our table at my persistent request. It never failed to shine with greasy deliciousness, and it also never failed to transfer all its grease onto my size five shirts with flowers and paw prints. It was when I could hog all the flakes of scrambled eggs and plump shrimp, and be young enough to ignore that disapproval radiating from my mom. This rice is the days of cartwheels and conquering monkey bars.
Short and stout ovals of white sticky Cal rose was every day life. It took me through meals wharfed down frantically so I could get to drawing class on time. It was there when I finished elementary school and needed familiar reassurance in the cold hallways of middle school. This was learning and appreciating the details in life when my grandmother told me it was a disgrace to the human race if I threw even one uneaten grain in the trash. This was my childish antics trying to catch birds in our backyard with a scattered handful of uncooked kernels under a shoebox propped up with a twig.
Tough cardboard toffee stained rice was my rejection to growing up. Brown rice meant strikes against dinner and demanding the familiar white chewy bulbous rounds back.
Sweet black rice balls steamed in bamboo leaves and twine tied were New Years celebrations. Filled with pork shreds or bean paste they were what parents made for five hours while they talked over tea. They were family gatherings, parties, and an acquired taste I painfully developed.
Growing up was voluntarily asking for brown rice. Insisting that we replace our usual white grain with the healthier alternative.
Growing up was learning to handle the rice cooker ever present in all Asian households.
Though not known to be a particularly deep rooted plant, rice has rooted itself deep enough into my life that each varying color, shape, and texture replays a different chapter in my childhood.