When I worked at Dansk Designs eons ago, the owner, Ted Nierenberg inspired me in many ways. He loved to cook. He loved to travel. He loved photography. He loved to garden. He loved his family. He loved running his business. He and I had a lot in common. But one of the ways he may not realize he inspired me was his attention to the little things that make everyday eating better.
One of these things is rice. I remember him taking me to a food market lined with stalls --someplace in Westchester that I can no longer recall--and showing me the bins of rice and how different they can be. This was long before the nice grocery stores we have now. He sought out places like this. A long grain basmati was our mission that day.
Up to that point, I was a Uncle Ben's girl. I had survived on it, mixed with a can of beans, during my poorest days when I was without a real job. I took home my bag of good basmati and discovered the difference. It was aromatic, and more flavorful, with a slightly nutty taste.
Don't get me wrong, Uncle Ben's is fine. But good rice is better. I couldn't get anything else for a long time after I moved to rural New York. Then I found a place in Louisiana where I could mail order a 10 lb. bag and it was fantastic rice.
Eventually, we got a Wegman's and the food supply in general improved, so we now have great rice choices. This is our everyday rice, an excellent brand, Texmati, sold nationwide. It's an American rice from Alvin, Texas. It smells great when it's cooking, a little like popcorn. They were the first to successfully grow basmati rice in the U.S. and they grow it in a sustainable, organic way, according to their website.
Growing up (in suburban Houston) there were rice paddies near my home, but I never appreciated what a good product Texan rice was and is.