Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Fried Rice Challenge

friedrice, originally uploaded by emily loke.

I don’t have many food prejudices, but the one I do have seems to be unconquerable. I should probably clarify this: to me, a food prejudice is a strong dislike for a dish that tastes good, looks edible (at least) and is made of perfectly normal things that you would happily consume in any other recipe. I hate to think that I’m prejudiced against anything – let alone food, of all things! – but in light of my recent attempt to (and failure at) overcoming my bias, I’m giving up and admitting this to the world: I hate fried rice.

I’m not sure if the fact that I’m Asian makes my prejudice peculiar or acceptable: while fried rice is a very Chinese dish, it is synonymous with Americanized Asian cuisine and its accompanying Chinese stereotypes. I’ve always found my dislike for it strange and have tried mouthfuls of it on several occasions in attempts to understand the reason behind my aversion to it, to no avail.

Finally, A. suggested a make-or-break type of trial that would either lead to me loving fried rice (as he does) or writing it off forever, never to experimentally eat any again. We decided that I would make a plate of fried rice to my exact preferences, within certain ingredient guidelines. The challenge would be fair.

As I prepared my ingredients (extra char siew and spring onions, no eggs), I began to feel the stress of the challenge: should I dislike the fried rice, was giving up on eating it ever again a little drastic? I tried not to think about it as I swirled the rice around in my wok. When it was done, I mounded it onto a plate and handed it to A., the in-house fried rice connoisseur, for approval. It was deemed an authentic representation of fried rice, which was good enough for me. I took a tentative bite.

I could feel A. watching me with bated breath as I, ever the optimist, ate a couple more spoonfuls of it. I didn’t eat much more than that before I began to pick at it with my chopsticks and push it around my plate. I managed to catch my inner child from fully surfacing just before the whining and pouting started, but at that point I knew I had my answer.

So for all you foodies out there who are prejudiced against some dish or another, I have a challenge for you: try making it at home and see if you like your take on it better. If you do, great! If not, then go ahead and be prejudiced. I won’t tell if you don’t.