last night i made my first attempt at carioca. a kind of fried fritter made with sweet glutinous rice flour. the thought surfaced while my shoulder was hurting, and as i laid on my back i remembered i had bought two packages of bamboo skewers. thinkin’ i’d be grilling some beef satays, marinaded in different tones, but it’s been too damn hot to do that.
it has been many forgotten moons since i had carioca. i didn’t even know it by its name. i just remember pointing at it as a kid. maybe that’s a false memory. maybe it was just handed to me. but how delicious it was. how crunchy. how chewy. how sweet.
all the how’s presented and danced in memory. all lovely in their how thought forms. i laid there really wanting some carioca. read some carioca themed blogs. gathered enough information. ‘simple enough,’ i thought. and so i jumped out of bed, went in the kitchen. washed hands and gathered all the equipment. grabbed a can of coconut milk, a box of mochiko, raw sugar, water, and oil.
i mixed two cups of mochiko with one can coconut milk. i formed it into a dough. i felt around until it seemed to feel like my earlobe. that’s the trick i picked up somewhere — to be sure i had gotten it right. pinched and formed more dough into golf ball sizes. heated the oil. in another pan, i cooked half a cup of raw sugar with half a cup of water. reduced it to a caramel syrup, added a bit of coconut milk to it.
the oil was ready and i carefully dropped the carioca in. i waited for ‘em to turn a golden brown. i kept waiting. i waited like waiting for a phone call. a ride. i waited like an orphan. ‘maybe it isn’t hot enough,’ i thought. i waited until i grew up and lost patience. i figured lightly golden brown ain’t bad.
i began to fry the second batch. i skewered and plated the first batch. i drizzled and coated ‘em with the coconut syrup. i was smiling, a whistling almost grew alive, and then suddenly i heard an explosion. i felt the side of my face, near my ear, was a lil’ warm. i quickly took it to be oil. ‘damn,’ i thought. had i been facing the stove i would’ve been disfigured or blind. no problem. what’s a lil’ hot oil? and that guy wrote on his blog, it will ‘spit and splatter,’ or somethin’ like that pfft. more pops and explosions. i ran barefoot from the kitchen to the hall, my two cats followed in fear. i started to feel palpitations occurring but i was laughing too hard to take it seriously. i peeked back in the kitchen and anticipated another series of eruptions. i grabbed a lid, used it as a shield and turned off the burner. i thought it was over until my kitchen started to sound like the 4th of july again.
i don’t know exactly what went wrong. was the oil too hot or did i cook it too long? in the end, i was left with an oily kitchen and face. the edible carioca bits that weren’t solid as rocks were good stuff. i looked at the exploded halves in confusion. it was one of the funniest and most terrifying kitchen experience i’ve ever had.
i will attempt to cook carioca again, someday. with some kind of survival gear.
(pictures are delayed. technical grr stuff.)
‘….and the rocket’s red glare,
the bombs bursting in air…’