Rice is a key part of My Family and Culture

Traditional Mexican food is so versatile that one ingredient can be transformed and incorporated into every meal. When we think of Mexican cuisine here in California, we can assume that we will be served traditional red rice with our meal. Rice is a cultural staple in the Latino community. Though it was thought to be a simple side on our plates when we go out for dinner with our friends, it is a food that brings many Latino families together. Due to living circumstances and economic barriers in Latino neighborhoods, rice is made for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert because it is affordable and filling.

Let’s take a brief look at the types of recipes my family has made using rice and I’ll let you know which one of them is my absolute favorite! Our family dishes include Mole con pollo y arroz, horchata, caldo de pollo, arroz con leche, y arroz con verduras. To put it short, some of these recipes are made daily to feed families and some are made for a special occasion, as some dishes require a lot of time to make. My personal favorite is arroz con leche, which essentially means rice with milk – similar to rice pudding. The main ingredients are rice, milk, cinnamon, condensed milk, butter, an orange peel, and some other goodies.

Our family tradition is to make arroz con leche as the season changes to fall or winter. In our family, my grandmother heats up the rice and milk combination, which then heats the room where our family gathers to talk and spend quality time. Then she adds in the cinnamon and orange peel, which fills the room with a sweet aroma. The children get so excited and start to help her, adding the condensed milk and sprinkling some sugar with their little fingers. As soon as the dish is ready to be served, everyone lines up with a bowl and spoon in hand, ready to enjoy this hot rice pudding made with love. I cherish these memories!

Food brings people closer, but when you make it with love, it’s a whole new experience.

Marissa Trejo is Office Administrator for the California Rice Commission