From the back of the shelf: Cookbook Quote No. 1

The mention of rice to an Englishman calls to mind rice pudding, which can be creamy and delicious, but is more often than not a glutinous mess surrounded by a dark brown crust ornamented by a blob of red jam.  Alternatively it is eaten with prunes, also boiled.

Rice rarely conjures up an attractive vision;  nor does the picture automatically set the salivary glands to work.  One's mouth never waters for rice pudding served in the average English cafĂ©. It is a sweet over which few people linger.

This is, of course, in keeping with the modern tradition of 'canned cookery',  frozen food and the stern English character through which runs a Puritan streak.  The Englishman feels that enjoyment of any sort, be it ever so innocent, is ungodly and must be paid for later with fasting, prayer and shirts of horse hair.

This desire for self-immolation has created an incredibly tough race that will queue for hours in the rain on a bitter winter's day for the doubtful pleasure of watching twenty-two men agitate a bag of wind.  It has helped to make the Island Race the hardiest in the world, so impervious to wind and weather that an ordeal like Dunkirk, which would have quelled any other race, was accepted as almost another frolic.

Rice pudding and inclement weather have contributed much to the average Englishman's stoicism and to Britain's success as a great power.  There is little doubt that many of her Empire Builders fled these shores for balmier lands because they could no longer stomach rice pudding and cold mutton, and far across the sea they learnt that rice could be concocted in more delectable ways.

Now that the hydrogen bomb bids fair to make wars suicidal, the hardy Englishman at home may be tempted to eat and enjoy rice in some of its more palatable forms.  And of these there is no end.

from The Complete Book of Curries by Harvey Day, published by Nicholas Kaye Ltd, 1966

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