Monday, December 8, 2008

Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat?

While I lived in Northern California, one of my favorite destinations was to San Francisco to take in a meal (or a series of meals, wandering from neighborhood to neighborhood). Yet in all the time I was there, not once, NOT ONCE did I ever EVER come across Rice-a-Roni on a menu! Yet I knew from years of watching television that it was "The San Francisco Treat." It even featured a cable car. So what gives?

Apparently, it was only created there. Here is the company's version of its history:
Like most great products, Rice-A-Roni® began as a well liked family recipe…

The DeDomenico family all enjoyed an old Armenian dish consisting of rice, vermicelli pasta and chicken broth. The rice and pasta were sauteed in butter before the liquid was added, giving the dish its distinctive taste.

In 1958, Vince DeDomenico decided to take this recipe and produce 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®.

Chicken RICE-A-RONI was first introduced in the northwestern states in 1958. With it came the first RICE-A-RONI commercial, featuring San Francisco's Cable Cars and the now famous jingle. Created in San Francisco, RICE-A-RONI would soon be known to all as "The San Francisco Treat®!".

I long ago swore off the stuff, since the rice no longer tasted like rice, and it had more sodium in it than a person needed in a week. But I always liked the way it looked and decided to cook my own at home. It was surprisingly delicious! 

Lori K's Twice-as-Nice-a-Roni
Makes 3 cups

1 tablespoon oil or butter
½ cup filini pasta (or vermicelli pasta broken into 1 inch pieces)
½ cup bastmati rice
1¾ cups chicken or beef broth

Heat the oil or butter over medium high heat; when hot, add the pasta and sauté until it begins to brown, then add the rice and continue stirring until the most of the rice turns white or begins to brown. Add the broth and turn up the heat to boil. When it comes to a boil, cover and turn heat down to low. Cook for 15 minutes, fluff and serve hot.

1 comment:

  1. I always wondered about that...

    Speaking of inventions from San Francisco - though this may be disputed by Ensign Chekov - chop suey was apparently invented in The City... several times in "San Francisco" the Clark Gable character offers who ever is there - notably the reluctant Jeanette MacDonald - 'wanna go get some chop suey?' Leftovers whomped up, is the story I heard.