According to Serious Eats, today is National Rice Pudding Day. (Random, I know, but hey, we all have to get some recognition sometime.)
Up until about a year ago I would never have celebrated National Rice Pudding Day. I grew up being slightly grossed out by the lumpy, cold dessert, because like lentil soup, rice pudding was one of those things that my mom made all the time, even though I told her, and still have to remind her to this day, I didn’t like it. At all. I’ve always thought my mom’s cooking was mediocre at best, but rice pudding (and lentil soup, for that matter) always fell squarely in the “blegh, gross” category. My mom’s was sticky and goopy, with disconcerting whole cinnamon sticks.
But some time last year I heard about Rice To Riches, a Nolita shop specializing in one thing only: rice pudding. Curious to see how a business could thrive selling something as random as rice pudding, I went to check it out. Unlike my mom’s milky colored variety, the rice puddings at RTR came in more than a dozen flavors and colors. There was a gold colored caramel, a chocolate flecked cookies and cream, a chocolatey hazelnut, an oatmeal-colored french toast. This was NOT my mom’s rice pudding.
I surprisingly liked it so much that first time, that I went again more recently and tried it again. And what do you know? I still wasn’t grossed out by it! In fact, I straight up liked it. I went for the cheesecake rice pudding (named “coast to coast cheesecake”) which was cool and creamy, with just enough texture to not be too smooth or slimy. The flavor was a creamier version of cheesecake filling (which, ahem, I could eat by the gallons) and best part— no surprise pieces of uncut cinnamon sticks! (God, I hated those.)
Rice To Riches was able to make me a rice pudding believer, even after a childhood of the goopy, icky stuff I had at home. So go ahead, have a happy rice pudding day! At a safe thousand plus miles away from my mom’s rice pudding, I know I certainly will.