Mar 30, 2008

Bisaya sa San Francisco: Got Rice?

circa 2005

I moved to the US in 2005. One of the first issues I faced: RICE. It was hard enough to deal with the language difference. It is very hard when you think in your native tongue and have to speak English to an impatient waiter. What's sibuyas, again? Was it onion or garlic?

I get more confused when it feels like eternity is passing by too fast, and this waiter at this "nice" restaurant is growing another wrinkle on his very impatient forehead.

Food here is different. It's not our everyday Filipino fare. "May i have rice, please?", I ask.

"Would you like sticky rice or rice pilaf?" this snotty waiter would ask.

How on earth would i know? All I know is that kan-on(kanin) in English is rice. Period. I have never heard of rice pilaf. And sticky rice is not regular kan-on. I don't want biko with my steak!

My husband had to explain it to me. Would the average Bisaya know that our regular kan-on is actually called "sticky rice" or more regularly, "steamed rice" in English? For more than two decades, I didn't know. Most of the places here serve short-grained rice. Not bad, but oh, what I wouldn't give for a hot steaming pot of ganador. I wish I could take the motorbike and buy a bag at Miguel's store in Argao.

I ordered steamed rice.

So I thought ganador should be in the long-grained rice category. I kept on the look out for long-grained rice. Found it on the menu in a Indian restaurant! Yehey!! Indian long-grained rice is long, alright. Thinner, about the same length, but totally different from ganador.

So I gave up on the quest for ganador... Jasmine rice is not bad. Its just different when you think that the best rice variety is ganador and you wonder why it's not popular enough to be sold everywhere. They don't have them in the Filipino stores I've been to here, so far.

And so the impatient waiter returned, looking not too snotty this time. He served my rice, a well-done steak, a knife and a fork. Knife and Fork. That's not too hard, is it? When cutting a piece off a steak, it's not. When trying to eat rice with the fork in your left hand? Not too easy. Maybe you're supposed to put the knife down, transfer the fork to your right hand, get rice and eat. Easier. This slow eater just got slower.

And you should see the prices! My mother would have a fit if she heard that I spent a thousand pesos on one steak. I cant help thinking I'm having a piece of meat that's worth an entire meal for at least 10 people back home. But what can I do? I just cut myself a piece, chewed and tried not to think that that single bite I just had was worth about a hundred pesos. I smiled (at my husband kuno aron di ma-ala-an na murag buang) and promised myself that I'm getting some of those really expensive prime meat for my family in Argao when I go home. Then I didn't feel so guilty when I got the second bite. Delicious.

1 comment:

HappyHeart said...

I experienced the same thing too...when the waiter ask me about what kind of rice? "I said with confidence, just ordinary rice please!!!toink toinkkkkk, ambot tama ba to..bahala sila hehehe..pero murag naulaw ko kaorn na naghinumdum..hehe