It was the fall of 1966 and my boyfriend at the time had just returned from living in Japan over the summer as an exchange student. His stories sparked the beginning of my journey into the significance and art Japanese food. What I now remember most vividly were his tales about rice––the taste, texture, aroma of something so seemingly plain. He talked about the ubiquitous rice cooker in every household and the mountains of the grain consumed at every meal. In Japan, rice not only nourishes the body, it also provides sustenance for the soul. Without rice somewhere in the meal, Japanese people feel that they have not really eaten.
There are over 40,000 varieties of rice worldwide, and the relatively small percentage of those varieties with which I have worked could easily fill many issues of the Gazette. Different cooking vessels produce different results, even for the same grain. I have experimented with many different vessels and many different grains, but I do have a few favorites that I want to share with you here.