Farewell, Rice Maker: 1997 – 2011
There was a death in our family. I am still in mourning.
In June of 1997 I had just graduated high school and was preparing to head off to college. I had all the essentials for dorm living: computer, microwave, mini fridge, espresso machine (no seriously it was essential) and somewhere along the way I decided I needed a small rice maker. I was seventeen with absolutely zero cooking skills and the one thing I knew in this world is that if I had a rice maker I would not starve.
The rice maker was a constant fixture in our kitchen growing up. We ate a lot of rice, but we also used the rice maker to cook beans, soups, stews and the like. These are things that even a talentless cook like myself could manage. After all, the only thing I had to do was put ingredients in the pot, fill with water and turn on. So I went to the local Long’s Drug Store and bought a 4 cup rice maker for $9.99.
While it only had one setting, it was a smart rice maker – meaning it cooked predicatively instead of on a straight timer. I cooked everything in it. I even steamed veggies and prepared endless boxes of macaroni and cheese. The first meal I ever cooked for my husband in that crock pot. He was impressed. He even still tells the story. He later found out just how bad of a cook I was.
When we got our first apartment, the only cooking appliance we had was that rice maker.
When we bought our first house, it was the first appliance on the counter.
When we hosted dinner for 15, I cooked rice 4 cups at a time to feed the hungry masses.
But after fourteen years, it died peacefully while making one last batch of Spanish rice. We spent our dinner sharing stories of our many adventures with the rice maker throughout the years. We laid out the milestones it saw and the events it catered. Though we had often joked about our unnatural emotional bond with our rice maker, it became clear that this rice maker wasn’t just about making food. It had become part of our history, part of the transition to adulthood. It is part of stories told over the dinner table with friends and family. It has become a fixture in our kitchen and in our lives.
It is silly, but trash day has come and gone and the rice maker still sits in its place on the counter. It seems just wrong to throw it out, almost like we are throwing out a part of ourselves. I can tell you we have gone through four or five blenders and a dozen hand mixers over the years. Upon their deaths, they made their way to the appropriate trash and/or recycling center. And yet, the rice maker sits there. It was a good rice maker. It deserves better, though what that is we have no idea.
That’s do, rice maker. That’ll do.