Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ode to Ris ala mande

Ris ala mande sounds like a really fancy word, doesn't it?! It is a traditional Danish Christmas  made out of a sort of rice pudding with some cream, vanilla and a handful of chopped almonds. It is served cold, YES, I SAID COLD, with some hot cherry sauce on top. I am not sure if the cherry sauce is to make it look Christmasey or to cover up how the rice mixture looks (because Danes, you have to matter how much you like it, it gets about a ZERO on the "food presentation scale" before you pour your cherry sauce on it...)

This dish was served last night at the Julefrokost (which I will explain more about in tomorrow's blog), and my culinary opinion of the Highly Acclaimed Ris ala mande received such a reaction that I thought I owed it to this very famous Danish Christmas dessert to explain just exactly what it is. 

First of all, I have to say, I was a vegetarian for 9 years (only started eating meat in 2009 when I got pregnant and discovered I needed more protein after cutting most fish products out of my diet). But how is this related to Ris ala mande, a dish with NO MEAT? Well, I did not become a vegetarian in 2000 because I was an animal rights' activist; I became a vegetarian because of one thing---TEXTURE. The way that most meats felt in my mouth was terrible. I hated the textures... for years, I would only partially eat some meats while not eating others at all, so finally I just said NO MORE and gave them all up. So knowing that a food's TEXTURE means a lot to my palate, it should be quite understandable why I am not a fan of Ris ala mande....

To me is it like eating (I would imagine) vanilla flavored wallpaper paste. I know there are Danes, GASPING IN DISBELIEF, as they read this BLASPHEMY. But even though there is a PRIZE for anyone who can find the WHOLE almond in the midst of the paste, I can assure you that even if that prize was COLD, HARD, CASH, I still would not eat it. 

I have a Cajun friend who is married to a Dane (yeah, there is another pair of us in the world) and she said that when she made Ris ala mande for her husband in their home in Louisiana and served it to HER side of the family, the reaction was that this was just wrong.... and to quote her Cajun dad, "the only thing you should ever be putting on white rice is GRAVY".  End of story! 

This Cajun girl with texture issues and a need for "lovely presentation" of her food will be saying only one thing when it is served on December 24th--- ELLERS TAK! To which all the Danes at the table will be delighted as they can have my portion! SEE!! Everyone wins! 


Anonymous said...

There is something similar over here called Ris a la Malta - which is bascially creamy rice porridge with satsumas on top. Not my favourite dish at all.

nell said...

I'll eat your helping :) (without the cherry sauce, though)

Unknown said...

Wait, wait, wait. Did you not eat it with the CHERRY SAUCE??? Wes makes this, and I admit I love it. :)

Lisbeth said...

Being as Danish in origin as we come (farmers in Jutland for centuries), I can comfort you by telling that I also detest ris a'la mande - and yes, it is VERY much about the texture - and the temperature - and the strange combination of rice and vanilla - and the cherry sauce - and the disgusting habit of keeping the whole almond hidden in your mouth - and the... well, I'm sure you know what I mean :)