Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rice-a-Roni: Who Could Have Known?

The origin of recipes can be a fascinating case study. In case you missed it, on this morning's National Public Radio broadcast of Morning Edition, there was a delightful story about the origin of one of the first boxed food products available to the hurried cook, Rice-a-Roni. Now, for those of you who thumb your noses at such packaged and processed products, I urge you to read on. And, do listen to the story.

It turns out that it is based on the Armenian Pilaf recipe made by Mrs. Captanian, an Armenian immigrant with an amazing and tragic life story and adapted by a young Canadian-Italian family who lived with her. As NPR reports, this story is about "the convergence of a Canadian immigrant bride, an Italian-American pasta family, and a survivor of the Armenian genocide – all of which led to the creation of "The San Francisco Treat."

Once again, food serves to unite people and to form the basis for lasting memories. Take a minute to listen to the story. It is a delight. There is also a website to accompany the story, complete with photos, additional information, and yes, the Rice-a-Roni theme song.

Note: This story is part of the Kitchen Sisters Hidden Kitchens series. It is an award-winning series that explores "the world of street-corner cooking, below-the radar, unexpected,hidden kitchens, legendary meals and eating traditions -- how communities come together through food."