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Episode 147: The Importance of Rice to Family Food and Culture Worldwide

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What to Eat

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Nearly every cuisine in the world includes rice. After all, this agricultural staple has built countries and shaped global economies. This week, we talk with Parisa Parnian, Chef JJ Johnson, and Christine Gallary about the role that rice played in their family tables growing up, and its place in their kitchens today.

The Crop That Rules Family Kitchens Around the Globe

For the first time since season one, we’ve asked three experts to talk to us. The first time we had this many guests on a single episode it was to tackle school lunch — there’s so much to cover — and this week’s topic is even more expansive. Now that we know more about how to cook rice, it’s time to explore how this food staple — the most significant single ingredient worldwide — shapes the food of cuisines around the world.

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Our Guests

Parisa Parnian is an Iranian-American multi-disciplinary visual artist, designer, storyteller and cook. Parisa’s focus is on the colorful intersections of ancestral traditions meeting the very modern and often subversive world that she inhabits. In 2016, Parisa left her 20 year career in the fashion industry to found both Savage Muse, a radically inclusive design studio, and Savage Taste, a multi-faceted food, culture and community building hub.

She recently launched her own spice blend called PÉRXICAN, which is a celebration of cultural fluidity and the marriage of Persian and Mexican flavors. She also marks “Make Tahdig Not War” t-shirt campaign that is uniting Iranians and allies across the globe around their love of Persian food and peace.

Christine Gallary lives in San Francisco and grew up eating Chinese food at her grandmother’s table before she got her culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Besides being the Food Editor-at-Large at Kitchn, she dabbles in all things food-related, including recipe testing, food styling, and her latest project, the Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown cookbook. All her culinary adventures can be found on her Instagram @cgallary.

Chef JJ Johnson is a James Beard Award-winning chef best known for his barrier-breaking cuisine connecting the foodways of West Africa and Asia to the Americas, and also his quick-casual rice bowl shop in Harlem, NY, FIELDTRIP. Chef JJ’s signature style of combining culturally relevant ingredients with his classically trained cooking and global point of view was inspired by the Caribbean tastes he grew up with, combined with inspiration from his travels.  

Chef JJ published his award-winning first cookbook in spring 2018, Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day (Flatiron Books). He serves on the James Beard Impact Programs Advisory Committee and sits on the junior board of Food Bank for New York City, taking action to end hunger. 

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