Risotto and Rice Fetishism

Reid sent this LAT food column on risotto (which I still call “risott’ ” in the mountain dialect of my grandparents) for my comment. What did I think?

Well, you’d certainly get a good dish if you followed the cook’s advice. But he sure takes it solemnly (not at all the same as seriously).

I never knew there were separate names for every step, like adding butter, and I have been making it for almost 50 years….

I think I said the same thing in an essay in here using fewer words.

He needed a special inspiration to think of making it?! (Maybe because he seems to see it as such a … BIG THING?) We make some variety two or three times a week.

And finally, drop the rice fetishism and the rare- rice mystique. Arborio is nice, but you can make it with any of the shorter high- starch rices from supermarket medium- grain to (even) sushi- type— just avoid long- grain types like Basmati. My grandparents used ordinary medium- grain and it worked then, as it does now.

Cooking technique is important, but there is a difference between the kitchen and Church– or even an art gallery. I prefer Bourdain’s playful, even raunchy attitude to food to hushed worship…


  1. What amazes me is the rice fetishism you see for just plain rice, in that many people seem to regard it as being just about as tricky and capricious as a souffle. It’s one of those things that I never imagined anyone could find difficult until I heard people griping about it. 2 parts boiling water to 1 part rice, simmer 20 minutes has never, ever once failed me. But apparently it’s so challenging that some folks clutter up their cabinets with rice cookers and God knows what else. People never cease to amaze.

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