I promised Stacie I’d tell her about yellow rice and peas although there’s really not much to tell. I buy it pre-made in the store and it makes itself in like 20 seconds. Yes, one can make their own Mexican-style saffron rice but I’ve never had good luck with the recipes. I think it’s the turmeric. Turmeric and I do not get along.
So Vigo brand it is, Goya also makes a nice mix. For the last five minutes of cooking I throw in half a bag of frozen peas. Redman is very passionate about yellow rice and peas, it’s one of his very favorite things for dinner. I love it for sheer convenience but also because it goes with just about anything: it can be the backbone of a vegetarian meal, or it cozies nicely up to roast chicken, breaded chicken, grilled fish, grilled shrimp, meat loaf, tuna cakes. It’s the little black dress of your pantry. And when you have leftovers, mix in an egg, form into patties and fry them up.
I have a soft spot for rice and peas myself. My junior year of high school, I went for two weeks to La Rochelle, France on an exchange program. My host student was named Christophe Roland. He had a reputation as a punk and I didn’t know how we were going to get along; we had zero in common yet within two days we were brother and sister. He loved American music and I spent many an hour mooching his cigarettes and translating lyrics for him. “Listen, what is this,” he said, putting on Modern English. “These words…making love to you was never second best…what does that mean?”
I gave him a look. “What does making love mean?”
“I know what making love means, stupid,” he laughed out a cloud of smoke, “what does he mean was never second best?”
He was something of a loner within the Lycee. His best friend was in his twenties and lived alone in the center of La Rochelle. Christophe took me to his apartment one night and the two young men cooked for me. I was not allowed to help. They were like Oscar and Felix. It was hilarious, and also touching to watch them collide and bicker in the kitchen, earnestly working to make this meal, and finally they marched out bearing grilled fish with a side dish of rice and peas. I was seventeen and felt I had arrived among the ultra hip.
That dinner was not second best.