Memories of Rice

After two attempts, I think I finally understand what goes into “Spanish/Mexican Rice.”

The flavors of tomato sauce, spices and chopped onions held up quite nicely with white rice.
Cardenas Spanish Rice
Inside the newsroom on Cinco de Mayo, my co-worker shared his wife’s rice as part of a Mexican breakfast potluck.

I loved it and I begged him for the Cardenas family recipe. A few days later, he got it from his mother-in-law and shared it with me.

Spicy dinner; chorizo  beans and Spanish rice
After simmering for 20 minutes, I served the Cardenas rice with spicy chorizo and kidney beans. I think my hubby enjoyed the spicy, savory dinner.

Here’s what I used:

  • olive oil
  • chopped onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of rice (his mother-in-law uses white long grain rice. I only had jasmine rice in my kitchen)
  • 1/2 can of tomato sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups of chicken broth
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cumin

My version of this dish turned out a bit wetter than my co-worker’s version in the newsroom. I think my substitution of jasmine rice didn’t soak up as much of the liquids from the tomato sauce and chicken broth. Bottom line: I’d liked to try this recipe again with the white long grain rice.

Next time.

I fell in love with homemade Spanish/Mexican Rice during the summer before my freshman year in high school.

That’s when I spent every weekday at the rink inside the La Jolla mall, training in pair skating with Mr. Callaghan.

After logging around 2-3 hours at the rink, I stayed with another skater, Lefki, and her mother. They also hosted some skating students from Japan.

Lefki’s mom, Mrs. Terzakis, made sure we had hearty meals after our training sessions. As skaters, we could eat anything without worrying about our waistlines.

I remember Mrs. Terzakis made rice for me because she knew my parents always had rice for our meals.

She apologized for not making white rice because she wasn’t familiar with it.

Instead, she made her version of Spanish/Mexican rice. It was delicious! After she made the Terzakis rice, I kept my eyes open for similar versions in other homes and restaurants.

One day, the skaters decided to give Mrs. Terzakis a break in the kitchen.

For our dinner menu, Hiro, one of the Japanese skaters, chopped up green onions and added it to her miso soup boiling on the stove top.

Lefki scrambled eggs with cheese and butter.

I was disappointed that I couldn’t make white rice for our host. I didn’t remember the ratio of water to cups of rice and I didn’t want to screw up my mom’s recipe. Instead, I boiled water and prepared instant ramen with butter.

I remember that Mrs. Terzakis enjoyed our simple meal.

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