There are many recipes, food items and culinary inventions that when you hear their names, you might just find yourself thinking about a certain place on the globe that you are reminded about. In my case I just can’t help but think about Pisa, Italy every time I hear the word, pizza. Unfortunately for me, that brings to remembrance the absolutely worse pizza I’ve ever tasted in my life. However, I can say for a fact that the best Scotch I’ve ever had was actually found in Scotland. No surprise there. Some things like Philly cream cheese or Philly cheese steak are seldom confused with Seattle or Miami, and don’t take much mental effort to identify the city that made them famous. Maybe it’s the other way around. Nevertheless, they wear the moniker well.
Some culinary creations don’t need a municipal or regional tag-line for one to quickly relate to a specific locale. One that rings a bell, pardon the pun, is Rice-A-Roni, “the San Fransisco treat.” I can remember surviving on the cleverly packaged rice and vermicelli dinner through at least three college semesters. It was survival food. I used to go to the Safeway in Santa Cruz and buy it seemingly, by the trolley load, (another pun, I think). The fact is, it was good tasting and filling, albeit it was probably not that good for you with it’s load of salt in every serving. I’m not sure about the other ingredients either. Nevertheless, it hit the spot.
From time to time I would wonder who came up with such a cool food. Whoever it was, they must be making some “big coin.” I’m sure there were thousands of college students like myself, who discovered the magic and goodness of browning the pasta and rice, boiling water, and mixing the special seasonings. Made you feel like a gourmet chef of sorts, no? Whatever it was, Rice-A-Roni was almost iconic. I just wondered where it came from. That question, although lost for decades in my archive of trivial questions, finally was resurrected a couple days ago while driving to work. What an incredible story! The kind I could create a huge history less plan around. Fear not, that’s for another day. Instead, I’d like to link the NPR story here so you can enjoy it much like I did. Have fun, and Bon Appetite