Over dinner, we tell each other about our mothers and rice cookers.
I once took a cross-continental flight with a rice cooker on my lap. It was a modest appliance which only cooked for 4, not 7; miniaturized for the student. At the point of departure, having managed to avoid this thing for weeks, my mother foisted it on me in the most persuasive way possible – loudly, in the middle of an airport, surrounded by airline staff, peers and 475657 other travellers. “Take it!” she cried. “You can’t eat ang moh* food all the time!”
Hers visits with persistent cajoles about adding a rice cooker to the kitchen. “You need one. I buy for you!”
“How can you cook rice then?!”
“In a pot.”
We chuckle and raise our glasses. The Gewürztraminer is French, floral and honeyed. On our plates, fillets of salmon beckon, fragrant with maple syrup, herbs and spices I can’t identify, and those I can: chili and cumin remind us of rice.
* literally: “Red hair.” A Hokkien term Singaporeans use for (crazy, non-rice eating) white people.