The Thanksgiving table is not a stranger to carbs—potatoes, cornbread, rolls, biscuits, mac and cheese, stuffing. But the one carb that will never leave mine is rice. I’m not referring to aromatic rice pilaf or wild rice dressing, but plain old white rice straight from my Zojirushi rice cooker.
There are tactical advantages to the presence of this pot of rice. It takes mere seconds to prep and can be assigned to virtually any family member (my elder brother in our case). It masterfully soaks up gravy and the mish-mash of flavors of the meal, and is a necessary element to my preferred next-day use of leftovers:and turkey congee.
Growing up, we spent most Thanksgivings with my mom’s side of the family. My mom is Chinese American and rice graced our dinner table every night of the week (and often breakfast and lunch too). We didn’t only eat rice with Chinese-ish meals. It was the base for roast chicken, steak, and grilled vegetables, and a necessary addition to every soup. At any given time, there was always a spare quart or two of rice in the fridge for fried rice with lap cheong or bacon.
For many Asian American families who celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s logical that rice has a seat at the dinner table. It’s there just about every other night and, in a meal that otherwise looks distinctly American, is a way of tying our roots back to our heritage. Even though each year’s feast looks a bit different (the first year after my parents moved to Miami, I made a key lime pie instead of pumpkin), the one constant at every Thanksgiving meal is a perfect pot of rice.