Last week, I was invited to participate in a Crop Dinner at my daughters' college. What an incredibly moving experience this was for me. For those of you who have never been able to take part in one of these, let me explain: a Crop Dinner is an event in which in lieu of a fancy meal, everyone is served the simplest dinner possible, representing the most basic foods available to the poorest among our world's neighbors. The cost of a more expensive meal is donated to those less fortunate than we are; in exchange for this simple repast--in most cases a humble dinner of rice, beans and cornbread--we are asked to make this symbolic penitence.
Considering that every day millions of people around the world go hungry, this small sacrifice--if it can even be called that--is but a tiny expression of solidarity towards the many who go with less every day.
To those of us in the business--food writers, culinary instructors, chefs, produce retailers, or food producers, alike--food represents our mainstay and our passion. Therefore, when faced with the clear reality that so many other individuals--among them mothers, children and elders--go without something to eat every day, our heart strings should twinge with emotion and move us to action. This dinner made me want to do more, and so I share this with my you, my dear readers, in hope that I touch your hearts and move you to join in this sharing of food.
Once a month, I invite you to make a humble dinner of rice and beans for your family, and to donate the cost of a regular meal to those in your communities who need it most. You know who they are, wherever you live and know where to help most--whether it be through your churches and places of worship, community groups, schools, soup-kitchens, or other places in your area.
I truly believe that together, we can make a big difference in erasing hunger from the face of our world. To inspire you, I offer you this simple recipe for perfect rice. Thank you for doing your part too!
1 cup long grain white rice
1 3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Combine the rice, water, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan. Set the saucepan over medium-high heat; as soon as the water comes to a boil, cover the rice and lower the heat to low. Simmer the rice, undisturbed, for 18 minutes. Remove the cover and cook the rice, uncovered for 2-3 more minutes (this will allow the water to fully evaporate so your rice is dry and not soggy). Serve hot.
Recipe yield: 4 servings.
Copyright Sandra A. Gutierrez, 2008; All Rights Reserved.