On Food, Being an Expat and Rice Pudding

Being an expat changes how you look at food, when you move to a new country you are introduced to new food, ingredients and dishes, a different food culture that influences how you cook, shop and cook. And then there is the food and food culture from the country you were born in, the food that made you grow into the person you are, both physically and mentally, food that often is tinged with a certain nostalgia, memories involving people, places and events from your past life. This is of course the case with all people but I believe that those memories get more important when you become an expat and start that life that I feel is a bit like living in a limbo, you don’t really belong in the country where you come from, nor do you really belong in your new one because you have so much inside you that is different. I don’t mind this that much because I feel it leaves me free to choose to be what I want to be as I will never fit in anywhere anymore, it is only when I’m low I can feel the burden of being an outsider but I suspect I would feel like that anyway, even if I had remained in Sweden.

Swedish rice porridge
About a week ago after a discussion on Facebook, me, Sophia of An Ode To… and Simi of Turmeric n’Spice decided to post the same dish on our blogs, the same dish but from our original countries, a dish we all grew up with. We are all three expats, Sophia is Bulgarian but lives in Australia, Simi is Indian but lives in USA and I’m as you know Swedish and live in Italy. The dish is rice pudding. There is a dish in Sweden that is called rice pudding but is different from the dish we discussed which is far simpler and more basic and I suspect it exists in one form or another in every country on this earth. In Sweden is called risgrynsgröt, rice porridge, and although it is eaten all year round, it is an archetypal Christmas dish and in olden times you left it outside you door for the tomte or gnome to please him and make him predisposed to do well in the year to come. I’m more of an oatmeal porridge kind of person but my brother loved risgrynsgröt, so there was no problem of making him finish my portions as well, I don’t think I ever made it when I lived in Sweden but I have made tons of riso al latte for my children when I moved here whoch is more or less the same thing, the only thing different is that you might include lemon zest here while you add cinnamon in Sweden. But as I’m free to do what I want now I’m an expat, I added cardamon seeds to my risgrynsgröt and topped it with freshly grated cinnamon.

Swedish rice porridge-2
4 servings

200 ml/ cup round grained rice
1000 ml/ 2 pints of milk
1 tsp crushed cardamon seeds
2-3 tbs sugar
A knob of butter
Cinnamon, I used freshly grated Saigon cinnamon sticks from Cinnamon Hill (they are not paying me but once they gave me a grater and different kinds of cinnamon that I just love the flavour of so I can recommend them in case you are looking for good cinnamon)

Cook rice and cardamon seeds in the milk over low heat until soft and the milk has been absorbed by the rice, better. I recommend to stir often, nay very often because it easily burns.

Add sugar and a knob butter, don’t add all the sugar at once but taste the rice so that irt doesn’t get too sweet. Mix well, top with grated cinnamon and serve hot!