The Rice is Ready… Still

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We typically use a rice cooker, suihanki – 炊飯器, to make rice in Japan. Rice should be rinsed until the water used to wash it is clear. After that, the rice can be cooked with water at the push of a button. Inside the rice cooker are nice lines indicating how much water to add. I have noticed that after the alarm goes off, letting me know the rice is ready, the cooker goes into a heated-but-not-cooking mode. I generally eat whatever I cooked, so this mode gets turned off right away.

School lunches, kyuushoku – 給食, get served everyday, but there is a tradition to serve bread with the lunches three days out of five. On the other two days, Tuesday and Thursday, everyone is supposed to bring a bento, 弁当, from home with rice in it. This has proved slightly problematic for me. Rinsing and cooking rice takes 30 to 40 minutes; on a good day I wake up about one hour before leaving for work; if I remember to get the rice started right away, everything is cool. Since this is not a daily activity and I am often preoccupied in the morning, I arrive at school without my rice more often than not.

Chatting with the part-time teacher across from me, I was surprised by her claim that she can make herself a box lunch in 15 minutes. Preparing all the goodies that go in a typical lunch would take longer, but I focussed in on the rice cooking. Two or three teachers joined in at this point and were all shocked that I cooked rice in the morning. “Aren’t you too busy in the morning?”, they asked.

Turns out, this was my chance to learn more about Japanese life. Consensus was that ample rice should be cooked for dinner, the next morning’s breakfast, and a box lunches. At dinner time some rice is used and the rice cooker is left on, in that heated-but-not-cooking mode I mentioned above. In the morning everyone can scoop out what they need and then bento can be made with the remainder.

Little things like this take me years to learn, because I don’t live in a Japanese household; I have to find them out in odd conversations like this one.

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2 Responses to “The Rice is Ready… Still”

  1. sunkissd1 Says:

    You should always consult women when trying to manage activities such as this and time. We are often, out of necessity, very good time managers/multitaskers. 🙂

  2. びっくり Says:

    I was tracking you for the first sentence, but you lost me on the second bit.

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