September 26, 2023

In the Philippines, rice is not just a staple food; it is a cultural treasure deeply ingrained in the Filipino identity. For many, the ability to cook perfect and fluffy rice is seen as a talent passed down through generations. But what happens when a Filipino struggles to master this culinary art? This is the story of my love-hate relationship with rice, where every attempt seemed to turn into a cooking catastrophe.
It seems as though the rice gods themselves are disappointed by my failed attempts at cooking their precious grains. I have been introduced to several tried-and-tested methods of cooking rice. The most recommended is the finger method, where the knuckle determines the water level. But my fingers seem to lack the magical touch, which has led to disastrous results. Another is the measuring cup method, which is said to be the safest approach. But for some uncalculated reasons, my rice is still a failure. Whether it’s turning into a gluey lugaw, a sticky kakanin, or even a burnt rice crisp, I just can’t seem to perfect it. It is just frustrating!
Despite my rice cooking misfortunes, I refuse to give up, hoping that someday I’ll be able to have the instinct to cook the best rice. Just this March, I stayed in Ifugao where the world-renowned rice terraces are found. Bululs, or the rice deities, also originated there. So, I took upon the chance to redeem myself and seek guidance from the rice gods.
With so much despair to gather all the secrets to rice-cooking mastery, I gladly immersed myself in the local culture. I watched in awe as the locals skillfully prepared rice, their hands moving with grace and precision. It was a wonderful experience that reminded me of the profound connection between rice and the cherished culture and traditions that surround it.
Through conversations with the host where we stayed, I learned that cooking rice requires a deep understanding of the rice itself, its unique characteristics, and the power of intuition – which I wish I had. They shared stories of their own rice-cooking journeys, and emphasized the importance of embracing the process with patience and a sense of humor – because they have learned how I keep on failing to cook rice.
As I got back home, I was determined to challenge myself and cook rice once and for all. I experimented with different varieties of rice, adjusting water ratios, and trusting my instincts. There were still moments of disappointment and laughter as I faced new mishaps along the way. But with each attempt, I grew more confident, learning from my mistakes and refining my techniques.
In the end, despite my best efforts, I must confess that I still have not quite mastered the art of cooking rice. So, I have come to a hilarious conclusion – I will simply rely on the rice prepared by people blessed with the talent of rice cooking. After all, there’s no shame in admitting that some things are best left to the masters. As long as there are people out there who can magically transform rice into fluffy perfection, I will gladly savor their rice with a grateful (and envious) heart.
But beyond the unsuccessful attempt of cooking rice, I discovered something more profound – the power of perseverance, resilience, and embracing imperfection. Cooking rice became a metaphor for life itself, reminding me that failures and setbacks are simply the paths to growth and mastery. It’s about laughing along the process, celebrating the small victories along the way, and simply never giving up. The journey may be filled with multiple misfortunes, but the rewards are far greater than a perfectly cooked grain. It’s a journey connecting us to our heritage, traditions, and the Filipinos’ shared love for the carb-loaded yet comforting and extraordinary rice.