Wednesday 20 January 2010

How to piss off the rice police.

Now for those of you who live in Japan and don't just hang out with foreigners and get pissed at izakayas every night, (heeelllllloooo me 5 years ago) you'll be pretty much aware of 'the rules of rice' in Japan, for those of you who don't or are munching down on the fried chicken in an izakaya right now, here they are:

1) The first and most important rule- Japanese rice is the king of rice, it shall not be confused with any other inferior rice such as that in Korea, Thailand and certainly not China *spits in disgust*

2) Rice should be made sticky so that if you drop it, it still sticks together, and to whatever it falls on. If it falls apart it is too dry and resembles above mentioned dirty foreign rice.

3) Japanese rice must be kept pure and not smothered with any condiment. This rule is slightly flexible if the dish is _____ don, For example, steak don is steak dumped on top of the rice.

4) Rice must be eaten with something else, it makes a meal complete, do not attempt to just eat a shitload of rice on its own, accompany it with delicious morsels such as; baked fish (WoooHoooo, eyes and all!), pickled colourful shite, miso soup etc etc.

There are many other rules when it comes to rice, I believe these are the main ones though, please enlighten me if you can think of any others..

Now as clueless foreigners go, I think I'm a pretty good one on Japanesey culturey stuff. I can sit with my legs under me (I am right now in fact), I'm a pro with chopsticks and never stick them in my rice bowl (Oooo there's another rule right there!!), I take my shoes off at the right times (see previous post), and I've learnt to say "summimasen" and "gomennasai" in between sentences to get anything I want (no brackets needed here but I'm a big fan of them tonight so what the hell).
I'm a good foreigner!!! Of course I still yell at sales people occasionally and have been known to drink too much and vomit on a few izakaya toilet floors but that's allll in the past, just call me 'bento girl,' the bento making perfect housewife of the Japanese future!!! (I know there's some nerd out there stealing my idea for a new manga right now.) I wonder how many brackets I really can squeeze into this post...

Now I discovered the other night the reaction that Obaachan gave when Ryota announced that not only had he knocked up his girlfriend of 2 months, but, SHE WAS A FOREIGN!!! AS IN NOT JAPANESE!!!!!! I'm surprised Grandma didn't actually keel over from the shock. But I was told her reaction was something like this:

Ryota: Grandma my girlfriend's knocked up.
Grandma: You stupid fucking twat, what the fuck are we going to do now, who is the dirty little slapper then??
Ryota: Her name is Corinne, she lives in Osaka...
Grandma: Corinne?? CORINNE?? What's her fucking name?? Is that fucking Chinese or something???
Ryota: No, she's Australian.
Grandma: Holy fucking hell, she won't speak a word of Japanese, what the fuck are we going to do now *slaps Ryota's head*

OK, it probably wasn't quite that harsh, but it was pretty close, I'm sure.
So Obaachan expected the worst, and I'm pretty proud to say that I pleasantly surprised her, the whole neighbourhood compliments her on the way her foreign granddaughter is the queen of aisatsu every morning, always puts her rubbish out on time and how good her Japanese is (of course they are judging this from "konnichiwa" so not the best way to judge language skills, but still.) She was also impressed that I could make bento, and listened to her rattle on (although half the time I was just nodding thinking; "what the fuck is she on about...?").
But recently, I've been breaking some rules, some very important rules, yup, you guessed it, I've been breaking some rice rules...

So for those of you living with or close to your in-laws, if they are rice nazis like mine, here are two sure fire ways to piss them off and remind them of your foreign-ness. The first, and very delicious way, is cheese rice. I had this for dinner tonight, much to the in-laws disgust, basically, you take some sacred J-rice, put some soy sauce on top, some mayo and then looooaaadddds of cheese, pop it in the microwave until the cheese is all bubbly and melted, and, you're done! It tastes really fucking good, although breaks all kinds of rice rules. I made a big-arse bowl of it too and had nothing else, so the in-laws were even more shocked and appalled at my dinner. Obaachan even muttered that it was a big waste of rice because I wouldn't be able to taste anything but cheese. Fuck it was good. (The pissing Obaachan off and the rice.)

The second biiiigggg rice rule breaker, is rice pudding. This one pissed the in-laws off even more because I was giving it to Ash too. I should have added another rule that Japanese rice is never to be mixed with anything sweet or anything that resembles a pudding. I tried to explain to them that rice pudding is actually very popular in other countries but they wouldn't have it, just kept saying over and over again that rice does not, has never and will never belong in pudding form. I made SIL try it and she even gagged a little and spat it out, it's freakin rice milk sugar and cinnamon, it's not like I put sulphuric acid in it or anything, although that gives me an idea...
They also made little grimacing faces when I was giving it to Ash, fortunately for me, he loved it and wanted more.

So the perfect, foreign-but-like-Japanese housewife granddaughter dream is dead for Obaachan, but good for me, if I go too Japanese I may start kitchen drinking, making poison curry or something crazy like always putting my husband first. Pffft, nah that'll never happen.
So I say rebel against the rice rules people, try some cheesey rice or have a natsukashi rice pudding in rebellion!!!


  1. LOL I LOVE rice pudding and remember making it for dessert once and being told it was just "wrong".
    Thanks for the rice rules! Made me laugh! I was also the perfect foreign GDIL/DIL until I upped and left and like you I quite enjoyed surprising people and going against their expectations! :-)

  2. Hahahahahahahaha this post made me laugh!

    My particular favourite is cheese and MAYO rice, that raised some eyebrows at the kida household ...but now they have given up because i always eat rice with mayo and wrap it up in nori and they think I am weird :)

  3. Rice pudding is my favorite thing in the whole wide world (as of this very minute).

  4. My in-laws always give me shit over rice pudding. I love it, and am never gonna change. My MIL tried it and said it was ok but my FIL refused, absolutely refused.

    What about furikake on rice? I love eating it that way, especially katsuo! :)

  5. I loved reading your rice rules - bl**dy hilarious but so so true!!

    I love rice pudding and really want to make it for my DH one day... just have to build up the courage first! LOL! But he would probably prove me wrong and actually like the stuff, lol!

  6. This cracked me up! Definitely think you should do a chopstick rules one as well- I am always breaking the chopstick rules of not having them TOUCH. Whenever Shun offers me something I guess I am supposed to open my mouth or offer up my plate but I always put my chopsticks up to grab it instead...

    Shun always looks around like he is going to get struck down by lightening! OH NO THE CHOPSTICKS TOUCHED.

    In Australia when my brother would poor soy sauce (or shock horror, tomato sauce) on his rice I would see Shun shudder...

    What is with the rice being put in the nabe pot then? That goes against several of the rules too but everyone does this...weird.

    I have never eaten rice pudding. Am I the only one?

  7. Very very true and I admire your bravery in breaking the rules.

    I did write about my stance on it on my blog way back in the day but I live a rice double-life and not sure how much longer I can stay in the closet... Mrs. Salaryman-Sunshine is the only one who knows...

  8. Haha, this was great! But oddly, my boy breaks like, all of those rules! He buys the cheapest rice available (we live in the States atm, but even with an abundance of Japanese/Asian markets, pure Japanese rice is hella expensive), puts all sorts of things on his rice like salsa or tomato sauce and raw egg and sausages and American pickles and shredded cheese (yes, all at once if we have it), and will eat that as a meal on its own (his fourthmeal, between dinner and breakfast. Or sometimes for lunch even..)
    Oh, and he even liked the rice porridge/pudding i made one time (but then he likes anything that's edible so that's not saying much. [i'm a heavy bracket user too, if you couldn't tell..])

  9. I'm with the in-laws on the rice pudding. Wrong. My mum used to make it all the time when I was a kid and I'd chuck a wobbly. I think it was more that the pudding was being ruined by having rice in it though, rather than the other way around!

    But I am so totally making cheese rice now!

  10. Love it! Saw a cooking show the other day where they cooked up "quick meals for the family" that basically consisted of throwing stuff on rice—like tomato sauce & cheese or mayonnaise & mentaiko—and microwaving it. You may have started a rebellion!

    Floria in Tokyo

  11. Oh yeah, you can put just about anything on rice. Bolognaise sauce, tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, definitely cheese, random leftovers...

    Another example of Japanese nationalism/ZOMG our stuff is teh best!

    Just be glad that they still touch Ash now that he has been forever polluted with illegal gaijin rice concoctions.

  12. Just popped in from Lulu`s page and got stuck reading your posts. funny!!!

    DH makes fun of me because if for breakfast we are going to have rice, he goes all Japanese and has rice with a raw egg on it. For me I add some butter and sugar, nuke in the microwave and enjoy the pure sweet goodness of it.

    I love rice pudding but haven`t made it in a few years. I know DH would definitely make fun of me then. Perhaps I should make it in March when my ILs come to annoy the hell out MIL. thats a GREAT idea (must write it down to remember)

  13. Just popped in because Mel pointed me this direction.. Hope you don't mind..
    how about Rule #5... Rice must be served with all meals regardless of other carbohydrates.. potatoes, etc.."what no rice?" I experienced this one for myself when visiting back in November..

  14. Mmmmmmm....... my dirty rice secret would be rice ice cream!! It's sweet, it's drowned in milk, the rice bits are al dente, how wrong could it be!!!!!

    Oops, wait, that's not Korean. Maybe that'll pass.