At 10.30 a.m. today, one of the house helpers came up to my study to tell me that we had no more rice to cook for lunch. Wow, and I was hoping for a leisurely day. We had a huge bowl of leftover stir fried beef and vegetables that I cooked for the kids’ packed school lunch and it was just a matter of one of the house helpers cooking the rice and that was that. I was expecting that I wouldn’t need to do anything in the kitchen until later in the day when I have to prepare dinner.

I debated for about 10 seconds whether to send the house helper to the market to buy rice then quickly discarded the idea. A trip to the market for a kilo of rice will make the price of rice go up by 200%. Why? Tricycles cost, dear. Forty pesos each way plus forty pesos for a kilo of rice. These small, noisy, polluting tricycles dictate the price around here because we’re far away from the route of jeepneys and buses.

Besides, both house helpers are kitchen-handicapped (I don’t require kitchen know-how when we hire house-helpers). They can’t cook (well, they can cook rice and fry fish). They can’t tell one variety of rice from the other. And many of the rice sellers in the market are wily. Not wily in some good sense but wily as in they cheat. If they think you’re clueless, they’d give you the worst variety of rice and charge you for the price of the best. With the price of rice these days, my goodness, who wants the aggravation? So, it didn’t make sense to send any of the house helpers to the market. Speedy buys our rice in bulk and he can do it on his way home from work today with no additional transportation cost. Leftover stir fried dish transformed into a gorgeous noodle dish

So, I went down to the kitchen, opened the cabinets and tried to decide how I would deal with the situation. I could have a sandwich, no problem, but the house helpers… well, bread for them is a snack but never a main meal. They have rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. Perhaps, it’s a remnant of life in rural Philippines where rice is eaten three times a day and even most snacks are rice based.

But noodles appear to be an acceptable substitute for rice for these young women. What I did was to boil egg noodles in leftover onion soup from last night’s dinner. Then, I dumped the leftover stir fried beef and vegetables into the hot noodles and tossed everything until the beef and vegetables were reheated. And that was our lunch. Then, I talked to Speedy on the phone to say we need rice tonight. It’s an emergency.

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