221/365: National Rice Pudding Day

There’s more than a grain of truth to this declaration: August 9 is National Rice Pudding Day!

Rice pudding is a surprisingly simple dessert that consists of just three ingredients: rice, milk, and sugar. Sure, you can add other ingredients like vanilla, rum, raisins, nutmeg, or chicken bouillon granules, but sometimes simplicity is best. Not surprisingly, rice pudding originated in Asia, where rice was first cultivated thousands of years ago. The dish gained popularity during the Middle Ages, as it spread through Europe like the plague. Err…oops, that was in poor taste. It’s still too soon for plague jokes. The first written records of rice pudding are found in medical journals dating back to ancient Rome, where it was prepared with goat’s milk and used for medicinal purposes. Because rice was once an imported luxury, elaborate dishes were prepared using fancy spices and other ingredients. As the grain became more commonplace, ingredients were scaled back, and nowadays the dish has a reputation for blandness. And yet, some cultures revere it. In Dutch and Flemish folklore, heaven is described as a divine place where you can find a never-ending supply of rice pudding, to be eaten with a golden spoon. And in Sweden, children put out rice pudding for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Famous writers like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Walt Whitman all mention rice pudding in their literary works, and in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the supercomputer Deep Thought claims the existence of rice pudding is derived from first principles. Seeing as how I haven’t read the book I can’t really tell you what that means, but I’m sure it’s deeply philosophical and stuff.

To celebrate, my mom made rice pudding from scratch. In a strange twist of events, she wasn’t even there to enjoy it, but we were. And we did. Good stuff!

National Rice Pudding Day

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “221/365: National Rice Pudding Day

  1. Momma Tracy

    I used to loathe rice pudding but when we were really poor and we were getting rice from the state, l started to make it quite frequently and now it’s one of my favorites. Yum!


  2. mom

    Glad you enjoyed it—better with whipped cream!


  3. Love, love, love rice pudding!


  4. damian

    I really enjoy a good rice pudding.

    Here’s what it means in Hitchhiker’s Guide when Adams writes that Deep Thought “derived rice pudding from first principles.”

    Deep thought is a computer dedicated to figuring out the answer to “Life, the Universe, and Everything.” As such, it has to do a lot of careful work on the nature of reality. The rice pudding line is supposed to help us understand how hard that is. In order to get rice pudding from first principles, Deep Thought would have to:

    1. Fully explain all subatomic physics, in order to be able to predict the existence of protons, electrons, neutrons, photons, etc.

    2. Derive all of chemistry from that.

    3. Derive hundreds of millions of biological models that are consistent with that chemistry. Every creature on Star Trek, for example, would have to be considered carefully.

    4. Derive, among all of those biologies, the entire biology of Earth, including cows (for milk), rice plants, and sugarcane. Doing this would mean deriving all the ancestor animals, too. So, dinosaurs, etc.

    5. Derive humans (or some other intelligent actor) and their entire culture, culinary preferences, allergies, etc.

    6. Predict that the intelligent creatures it had assembled from the basic physics of the universe would one day cultivate rice, mix it with milk and sugar, and enjoy it as a dessert.

    This entire silly scenario could have been a callout to Carl Sagan, who once wrote “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

    Clearly, this is utterly absurd, but that’s the point. Deep Thought is supposed to be an ABSURDLY powerful computer, capable of answering life’s most impossible questions. And, after eons of pondering, Deep Thought’s answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything famously turns out to be 42.

    Good god I love rice pudding.


  5. Ha-ha, that’s pretty interesting. Thanks for the most profound comment ever. I really need to read this book now!


    • Damian

      It really is a great book. The sequels get progressively weaker, but the first one is dynamite.

      So what’s mom’s recipe?


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