Ever since the release of Social Network the Movie, San Francisco has been a city associated with innovation and mediocre level culinary self-righteousness by the droves of San Franciscans who daily share their meals on instagram and foodspotting, and more obscure social networks like foodie who recently raised $25 million form Anderseen Horowitz (source: TechCrunch), where your pasta and meatballs get to talk about you, instead of the other way around.
However this is not to say that culinary innovation is something new in the land of the Friscans, a name the locals apparently adore.
Those familiar with this micro climate engulphed city will undoubtedly think that innovation in Friscan grub goes back to Mission Chinese in NY’s Lower East side, where non natives line up daily for hours to eat in a place that delivers, the truth of the matter is that San Fransico’s most popular and innovative dish, really comes from the 1950’s.
Rice-A-fucking-Roni. In 1958, Vince DeDomenico decided to take rice, vermicelli pasta and chicken broth, sautee that mofo in butter before adding the liquid and homeboy produced it for sale in grocery stores. He placed the rice and pasta in a box, and added a dry seasoning mix in place of the liquid chicken broth. Because this product was made up of half rice and half pasta, he decided to call it RICE-A-RONI, and then the lord said upon him, it shall be the bomb!
But why is it so damned good? Well, it’s like Willy Wonka once said, “My young lad, do you ask a dolphin how it swims, or an eagle how it flys? That’s right you don’t, because that’s what they were made to do.” Rice-A-Roni just is that. damned. good.
But, for argument’s sake, here are some theories that have come into light in recent years as to the magical goodness of Rice-A-Roni.
The first is the, “I’m so hungry” theory. How many times have you walked in to a pizza shop to hear a drunken customer raving that the pizza they were eating was the best pizza they had ever tasted? We’ve all been there. This is because they’re eating it at a time when they are so hungry they’ll eat anything. So this is the “I’m so hungry” theory. Is the pizza really good? Maybe. The best ever? Probably not. The taste at that point in time was in direct proportion to how badly that person wanted food.
There is also a simple yet surprisingly accurate mathematical equation that posits the amount of money in ones bank account directly correlates with the flavourful deliciousness of Rice-A-Roni. The less pasta you have in a bank account, the more delicious the rice and pasta is. Simple direct correlation. However, and contrary to popular belief, this isn’t it, nor is the butter, face the seasoning.
It’s quite obvious really. Think about the circumstances under which Rice-A-Roni is typically consumed. Do you eat Rice-A-Roni when you have a fully stocked cupboard? No. Do you eat Rice-A-Roni when you can go out and get a slice of pizza, or better yet, a grilled stuffed burrito from Taco Bell? Hellz no. So when you reach for the box of Rice-A-Roni, you’ve reached the point of, “I’m so hungry I’ll eat anything.” Hence, the reason it tastes so damned good.
Also – why does it taste so damned good? Sodium. C’mon people, it’s no secret around this country that if you put a shit ton of salt in or on something, it’s gonna taste delicious. 64% of your daily sodium intake in one Rice-A-Roni box? Boom.
Rice-A-Roni also tastes great because it’s so damned easy to make and takes little to no time at all to finish. Two things we Americans love – ease and instant gratification. In case you have any concerns over your ability to prepare and cook Rice-A-Roni, fear not. First you put everything in a pot, then you cook it for 17 minutes. Then you fluff it. That’s it. I found those directions on a blog where the author talks about relying on Rice-A-Roni for meals because she/he commutes 6 hours every day to work (3 hours to and from). I guess my biggest question is – why would you ever commute three hours to work?
As far as I can tell, there are a hundred differnt variations of Rice-A-Roni now, so it tastes so damned good because there is something for everyone, even you. Also, after searching 30 pages of Google results, we are the only people to ever tackle the question of what makes Rice-A-Roni so damned good. That’s more of an FYI than anything.
But what really makes Rice-A-Roni (taste) so damned good is the way in which it has been immortalized in song. Even Bobby Brown, at the height of his solo career and probably drug use, wrote a song dedicated to Roni. And just like everyone else, he felt compelled to offer his own insight on cooking Rice-A-Roni: “Only tender ronis can give special love.” He’s right — you have to watch the Roni until the pasta/vermicelli mixture is tender, and THAT’S when it’s ready to give back all of the love you’ve put into making it.
And in the words of the Wayan Brothers, “BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!”
Just when you thought Bobby Brown went and set the bar waayy too high to ever be topped, Vanilla Ice also threw his hat in the Roni circle with this classic ditty, “Having a Roni.” Apparently actual words can’t describe what it’s like having a Roni – a feeling many of have experienced – so he let his beatboxing convey the depth of his emotions and the sheer joy of Roni satiation sweeping over him.