The Goddess Speaks
Simple recipe brings fond memories
Tonight we are having rice with tears for dinner. I didn't plan on adding the tears to the rice as I fixed it; somehow the tiny droplets rolled down my cheek and into the pan without advance warning.
Whenever I fix rice I think of my dear friend from the Big Island, Wes Kelikeepe. He taught me how to fix rice perfectly every time without using a rice cooker.
Wes has been deceased now for many years. We met at Hulihee Palace in Kailua-Kona. He was with the palace and I was in the travel business at the time. During the years we became close friends.
One morning Wes arrived at our condo while I was trying once again to fix rice without burning it or having it turn out too watered-down.
He smiled and said, "Joyce, let me show you how we Hawaiians fix rice. It comes out perfect every time!"
He proceeded to empty out the mess that I had made and poured fresh rice into the pan. He took my hand and had me place my index finger in the pan, as though pointing at the surface of the rice. Then he turned on the water and let it flow into the pan, with my hand still in it.
"When the water reaches your first knuckle, turn it off."
Cook the rice, stir it occasionally, bring it to a boil, turn it off, place a lid on it, and voila! Perfect rice every time.
That was more than 20 years ago.
To this day, I still fix rice as Wes taught me and it is perfect each time.
I can never prepare rice without thinking about Wes. Today was no different, other than the added ingredient, tears. Perhaps it's my age -- am I getting more emotional as I grow older?
I miss my dear friend and will never forget the lessons that he taught me throughout the years.
Wes told me once that he truly believed I was a very old Hawaiian spirit that found her way back home.
Now that we have moved back to Ohio from Oahu, Wes' spirit is here in Ohio, too, in my heart. Especially when I cook rice.
Joyce Russell is a former Hawaii resident who now lives in Walbridge, Ohio. She is the author of "Hawaii Kids, Star & Ben," under the name Tutu Joyce and plans book signings in Hawaii soon. "The Goddess Speaks" is a feature by and about women.
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