Dozens and dozens of varieties of rice have just been harvested across the archipelago and many interesting ones are now hitting the markets. Isn’t it strange how indifferent most Filipinos are to the type of rice they eat? Considering that we probably easily consume 1,200+ cups of cooked rice per capita per annum, we are generally not too picky about the rice or its origins. Very few will be able to tell you they prefer Dinorado, Sinandomeng, Milagrosa or R-64 as some of the rice varieties are named. We worry more about if we brush our teeth with Close-Up vs. Colgate or drink Sarsi vs. Pepsi. I vehemently insist on a Diet Coke (Coke Light in Asia) at a restaurant and nearly gag at the thought of another brand. Many restaurants offer 12 kinds of softdrinks or juices alone but you never hear them ask if you would prefer a fragrant Milagrosa, a long-grain Thai Jasmine or an earthy and totally nutritious Bohol Red rice. Why? I don’t know. They should. Maybe I am on to something, listen up chefs and restaurant owners, offer different types of rice, will you?
At the market recently, I was intrigued by two sacks of rice sitting side by side. The sack with the darker red rice was recently harvested up in Bontoc, Mt. Province and at PHP50 a kilo it was more than double your everyday staple white rice… but it looked so good, I had to buy some and try it. If you had to manouever the rice terraces barefoot in fog with a 50 kg sack of red rice on your head you would charge more as well… Next to it was another sack of red rice but notably lighter in color, almost rose pink. This sack was organic red rice from the beautiful inland rice fields of Bohol. At PHP 40 a kilo, it was less than the Bontoc rice but still pricey. My mom’s family used to have rice fields in Bohol and we would get a shipment of red rice once a year and frankly, I hated it as a kid. But today, I really do see what the attraction is. The Bohol red rice is “meaty” or has volume… I find it goes superbly with heavily sauced dishes with strong flavors such as a good adobo. Besides being healthy, adding variety to our food intake and the terrific texture and flavor, what other reason do you need to start trying the dozens of different varieties of rice the Philippines has to offer? Do it now as these varieties only last a few weeks after the harvest!