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Allen grew up in Southeast Asia, as his parents were missionaries. Presumably he ate a lot of rice during his childhood. When we married, he was very fond of rice, and wanted rice-based meals pretty frequently. As a family, we usually eat a good number of rice meals each week, since we like rice, and it’s relatively inexpensive.

Now, however, Allen doesn’t want me to cook rice. At all.

This has to do with the big bridge project in Las Flores. Allen, Russell, and our paid crew are fed a cooked lunch every work day. This is paid for by the local government, as part of the whole bridge deal. And every day, they have rice. This is not to say they aren’t getting a good meal. There’s a nice piece of meat, from a variety of meats. There might or might not be beans, and some sort of salad-ish side dish will generally be served. And of course, there are tortillas. It’s not a meal without tortillas, and many of the men on our crew use tortillas in place of forks, as that’s the generally accepted etiquette in the rural villages around here. But there is always, always rice, as the main starch of the meal.

After only a few weeks of these meals, Allen was riced-out. He doesn’t want to eat rice at dinnertime, after having it so very regularly at lunch. I’m trying to comply, but I’m feeling a bit limited by the no-rice edict. I cycle through pasta, potatoes, and breads. Then I cycle through them again. And again.

I’m taking this as a bit of a challenge. We don’t use yuca (casava) much, because it’s not that different from potatoes, and potatoes are cheaper. Maybe I can find some interesting and unique yuca recipe? What about the wheat berries I grind for bread? Could I find a way to cook the grains for a meal – and a way that my family will like, and not just feel that it was something different? Also, how about different versions of potatoes? We boil, fry, mash and hash potatoes. I could bake them, but usually not in the evenings, when we’re trying to conserve power (because baked potatoes take a long time in the oven). Or different types of breads: biscuits, rolls, dumplings, savory pie crusts, etc. What else?

Suggestions are welcome! But please, don’t suggest rice – at least not until the bridge project is over in MAY!