the world in a bowl of rice

a rice salad
today is a glorious day. springtime at its best: blue sky, warm sun, fresh air...
and yes, i still leave in brighton, england, where i hope global warming will bring me soon the beach lifestyle i always longed for but somehow failed to achieve so far. northern italy and southern england are not the best places for that.
so, from the depths of my heart a big shout out to my mate El Nino.

today is also "is my blog burning" day, a day of around the world cooking, from alberto's original idea and hosted this month by globe trotting pim, whose mouth watering thai feasts haunt my culinary dreams.

the theme is "around the world in a bowl of rice".

i am happy with the theme, i like rice. rice is an important staple in the diet of anybody growing up in northern italy: italy is europe's main producer of rice and most of it comes from lombardy, where i am from. lombardy's capital, milan, is the home of risotto.

a risotto recipe would have been a natural choice but today is a glorious summery day which calls for something fresh. the idea of spending part of it in front of simmering pots of stock and risotto just doesn't fit.

what does fit to perfection is a nice refreshing huge bowl of insalata di riso aka rice salad.
one of my favourite dishes ever for its ever changing array of flavours and textures.
there is no recipe, of course. i've never made two identical rice salads because it's a dish that takes advantage of the best of what you have in the cupboard and in the fridge.
there are a few important tips, though:
- use only italian rice varieties as a plump glutinous grain is paramount to the flavour and texture of the salad;
- cook the rice like you would cook pasta, in lots of salted boiling water until al dente and no further;
- as soon as you drain it, rinse it thoroughly under running cold water to stop the cooking process;
- add all the ingredients that you fancy and leave it to rest as long as possible;
- make enough to spare for the following day: a day old rice salad is even better.

in honour of the theme of the day i put the world in my bowl of rice:
greek cheese, italian olives, english pickled onions, thai sweet basil, spanish tinned tuna, sicilian capers plus boiled eggs, fresh peppers, fresh courgettes, more cheese and so on (and on and on)...
a final word of advice: whatever you do, do *not* spoil the intricate and fascinating imbalance of flavours by further dressing your salad with large blobs of mayonnaise.

i do it and i will go to hell for it.

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