NARDI, the wife of my friend Illustracio, has creative ways of serving rice.
“I have to work out my brain power to come up with attractive dishes. I have two school children who sometimes don’t touch the rice I pack for them in their lunchbox,” she said one day. She said that after experimenting in her tiny kitchen, she had come up with unusual ways of serving rice.
“It sometimes looks like junk food. So my children eat them with gusto.”
We were intrigued by her story. So we asked her how she serves rice in different ways.
“It’s simply called diskarte,” she said, which really was not much of an information.
“Wow, that’s helpful,” my Uncle Gustave said.
Oh, that word, I thought. It comes from the Spanish original descarte or to disregard. How can that be a positive thing? In local parlance, it means something you do to attract (especially the opposite sex); to do things effectively; resourcefulness; to have an angle; and to find solutions.
THE STUFF. In the end, Nardi showed us some of her rice diskarte dishes. Aside from fried rice with minced hotdog, longganisa and chopped scrambled egg, Nardi makes rice balls.
She takes a handful of rice, flattens it and fills it with flaked adobo and sauteed cubed vegetables. She adds more rice and forms it into a ball. Her children’s favorite stuffing include sauteed beans with carrots and cabbage, or sauteed ground pork mixed with minced carrots, potatoes and chayote. “Play with the idea,” she said.
THE SANDWICH. Nardi makes rice sandwiches using rice as the main ingredient for the stuffing! She mixes chopped cooked hotdog, lettuce or cucumber (squeeze out juice first), sandwich spread and cubed cheese with rice. She spreads this on toasted bread. “I pack this with homemade frozen choco-milk drink. By lunch, it’s ready to drink.”
Another rice sandwich is a version of the onigirazu. “I don’t use nori, it’s too costly. I make rice patties to replace bread.”
Nardi mixes boiled rice with sauteed onions, chopped boiled carrots and kalabasang pula (pumpkin), salt to taste, grated cheese and one egg. After mixing and shaping them into patties, she fries them till golden brown. She stuffs them with cooked sardines. “I add vegetable soup and fruit in season in my children’s lunchboxes.”
THE PRESS. Some days, Nardi packs rice in a lunchbox. On top of the rice she presses all over the surface her children’s favorite food such as fried chicken, adobo or ground beef with chayote.