Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Netherlands - Rijste Pap

From experience, I know rijst means rice in Dutch. I went to the supermarket last week and stopped at the yogurt section. As adventurous as usual, I tried the weirdest option available on the shelf: rijste pap.

Rijste pap literally translates as rice porridge. Growing up as a Chinese by blood and Indonesian by nationality, the rice porridge I know is savory. Since this product was in the same section as yogurt, I figure that this rice porridge will be some kind of sweet dessert.

I opened the package, and when I tried to stir the rijste pap, I had a feeling that the rice was cooked in milk. It had thick consistency, and there are still rice grains in tact. Before tasting it I had an image of a creamy, sweet dessert, but actually it is far from sweet.

It didn't taste too good. Firstly, the rice flavor from chewing the rice grains presented a conflict of taste to me: the texture of the rice grains has been very well associated to salty or savory flavor. In my mind, I know it's supposed to be leaning towards the sweet side, but at the back of my mind (unconsciously) I expected something rather salty.

I shared this dessert with my Mexican friend who very kindly prepared me Mexican quesadilla (she calls it 'fake quesadilla' because she replaced the ham with turkey slice but nevertheless it was still very delicous!). She said similar rice porridge dessert exists in Mexico, but she said this rice porridge doesn't have much flavor and sweetness. In Mexico, they add cinnamon and brown sugar to the rice porridge. Well, the packaging of this Dutch rijste pap says "it is delicious with brown sugar" but I didn't read it before I tried it.

After a spoon of the rijste pap in my mouth I decided to "fix" the flavor by adding some crystal white sugar. Obvious enough, the cold and thick rijste pap doesn't allow the sugar to dissolve easily. Actually, the 'crunchiness' from the undissolved sugar gives an interestingly nice texture and sudden burst of sweetness in my mouth. It wasn't a bad decision :)

I kept half of the rijste pap in the fridge. The next day I ate it, I grew accustomed to its taste and texture, and I actually love it!


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