You’re cheaper than pasta, tastier than bread and when you find yourself in the company of a little avocado salsa and some beans, you go even better with sour cream than a baked potato. Until yesterday I thought you were infallible. You were the food equivalent of the friend who is always there at the end of the night to wait in line for a taxi while everyone else passed out on a footpath. You knew the quickest way home, you knew where the spare key was, you knew who I wasn’t allowed to drunken text at 3am and you never tagged me on Facebook unless I was looking particularly hot.
The humblest of all carbohydrates, no matter what the cuisine you were always content to lie there on the plate and let everyone else have the glory. Your starchy whiteness made you the star. You were the bed that brought coconut milk and chilli together, but like an exclusive Hollywood madam you kept silent, letting dashing ingredients have their way above you without so much as a snap, crackle or pop.
No matter what mood I was in, no matter what was in the fridge, you could be relied upon. If you saw me come home with limes we’d drink a bottle of wine together and make risotto. There was nothing you loved more than seaweed, raw fish and wasabi; a flavour combination no other staple could stomach. If ever you sensed I was losing interest in the relationship you’d stretch yourself into kinky noodles and spice things up with a little laksa. On special occasions you’d put on that see-through Vietnamese number, invite some prawns over and let me dip you in sweet chilli sauce. My God, but those were the days. I thought you were the Queen of all carbohydrates. But you let me down. Big time.
The fact that you got along with just about everyone should have been warning enough. You’d partied your way through every continent on the planet, and like a horny Scandanavian backpacker, I should have realised you’d bring more than a bikini and a pair of cargo pants along for the ride. When I came home late one night and you didn’t mention Bacillus cereus had shacked up in my pantry with you, things were never going to be the same. I know I’d been away for a couple of weeks and you had nothing on your shelf for company other than broken cannelloni tubes and Home Brand iodised table salt, but getting intimate with some beta haemolytic bacteria was a low blow.
Despite drinking dank diuretics in Vietnam and feasting on foul fish tacos in the backblocks of Baja, I’d never had serious food poisoning before. In fact, in 29 years on the planet I’d never even been seriously sick by myself. In my darkest, illest hours, there had always been a mum, or a girlfriend, or at least a concerned band member somewhere nearby to pat my head and tell me it was going to be OK. Kicking me in the guts when I was alone the other night was just plain cruel. Sure, I got to learn a bit about myself as the dizzying fever took hold, in fact I even fancied that like Alfred Russel Wallace the hallucinations might lead my mind to spring forth some dazzling new, undiscovered scientific theory, leaving me with a footnote in history. I spewed forth some dazzling and previously undiscovered matter, that’s for certain. But all I was left with was dysentery and a feeling like I was hiding a missing piece of Evander Hollyfield’s ear in my stomach and he was trying to punch it out of me. It still hurts to laugh. Not that I feel amused.
I’ve got other options you know. You never liked cous cous, but we spent some time together recently in Perth and I think there might be something there. Unlike you, cous cous is all fluffy and warm, almost cuddly, and it doesn’t take forever to get ready. I’ve always liked that about cous cous. Pasta is a blast too. And pasta goes really well with garlic and red wine. I always hated it how you and red wine never got along. Red wine is such an important part of my palette, I can’t believe you didn’t make more of an effort to get to know each other.
Rice, I think it’s time we spent some time apart. In fact, after what you did to me, and after all I’ve been through, I don’t know if I can ever love you again. It’ll be hard knowing that I’m going to see you in all my favourite places, putting smiles on random people’s faces, but I’ll get over that.
It’s been fun rice, but it’s over.