The Rice That Dare Not Speak its Name

Long ago, in my junior year at a women’s college, I took a Brazilian dance class for a physical education credit.  The teacher was a sweet, cheerful Brazilian man who didn’t speak much English, but didn’t really need to. That man could move. He would flip over onto his hands and dance on them while we stood around gawking (gawkily). He was slim, acrobatic, a willing slave to the beat and well-versed in the universal language: sexy dancing.  But the class met too early in the morning and I was much too inhibited to benefit from his snake-hipped prowess.  When he danced with me, he would put his hands firmly on each of my hips and try desperately to move them around.  “Move! Move!” he would command me, smiling all the while, and demonstrate the step as if to say, “Look!  It’s fun!”  I am sure it is fun, but then, as now, my hips are Lutheran. They swivel not, neither do they shimmy.

He showed us videos of women salsa dancing in skirts that would float up when they spun, revealing bronzed backsides, unfettered by conventional underwear.  I am blushing to this day from those instructional videos.  We were all so young and giggly; poor man, he must have been dying to get back to Brazil, where the women take salsa seriously and nimbly navigate the dance, and life, in stilettoes and G-strings.                                                      IMG_2021[1]

His wife came to the classes, which seems only prudent if your husband teaches the forbidden dance to young women.  She must have been vastly reassured when she saw my immobile hips clad in gray, man-repellant sweats.  But what she didn’t know is that though I am a disaster at the forbidden dance, ladies beware!  For I am aces at Forbidden Rice!

I was hunting around for something to make for dinner when I remembered the enormous bag of black rice a friend gave me after her pantry purge.  I had forgotten about this simple, satisfying recipe and was planning to stuff a pillow with the rice (the kind you microwave for warmth).  I rescued the bag from the sewing pile, and cooked it up.  Fate is fickle: one minute you are about to be immortalized in someone’s travel neck pillow and then, in a trice, you are dinner.

I fetched the sweet potatoes from the garage, cubed and roasted them, mixed it all together with the walnut oil and stuck it in the fridge to be warmed up at dinner over some greens.  Due to the lack of protein, I don’t consider it a main dish, but a side.  So, don your high-heels (or, as I call them, Danskos) and start cooking, if you dare…

Forgotten Forbidden Rice adapted from Taste for Life January 2012

3 Tablespoons walnut oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 cup forbidden rice
1 large sweet potato, cut into small cubes and roasted
mache, microgreens, arugula, or whatever suits, with a squeeze of lemon
dash salt
chopped walnuts

Cook rice according to package instructions.  Dress with the honey and oil. Toss is all with the roasted sweet potatoes and serve it cool or warm, over greens.  Sprinkle walnuts atop.

Lest you are still a skeptic about the erotic power of the dance, witness El Macho in action:


P.S.  Benjamin Bratt was the voice of El Macho in Despicable Me 2. I don’t know if BB could get me dancing like a star but I would be willing to give him a whirl. I could dig out my sequined two-piece costume. Now where did I put that….Aha!  It was under the rice.


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