December 12, 2011
You say carnaroli, I say cannaroni

I wanted to clarify and correct a clumsy slip in Sunday's review, out of respect for Rick Mahan and the crew at The Waterboy, as well as our many eagle-eyed readers. In a short section about the dessert served at a special Thursday prix fixe dinner, I referred to carnaroli as a pasta rather than a rice. I apologize for getting it backwards.

To casual, non-foodie readers who happened to land here for something to read, that last paragraph must have sounded overly serious. Hey, I apologize for that, too!

As a writer, my obligations are many - to opine, to entertain, to inform --- but the most important fundamental is to be clear. Sometimes, the more you try - the more you stir and hone and fuss and fumble - the worse it gets. Throw in the whir and flurry of deadlines, one writer's effort to trim a line or two to fit the space and you end up calling rice pasta. I think.

It seems I have heard from every person who has ever made risotto, letting me know -- and gleefully chiding me -- that carnaroli is a rice. Thank you. I have that very rice in my pantry, purchased at Corti Brothers (if you're looking for it), and over the years I have made risotto that has ranged from dreadful to delicious.

Here's what I thought actually went down at The Waterboy that very pleasant Thursday evening. Toward the end of the meal, we chatted about dessert with our server, who informed us that they were using a plump Italian rice used for risotto. Every other course on the menu that night had a pasta component. During the give-and-take, our impression was that this rice was selected because it gave a pasta-like quality to the dessert. There was plenty of chatter, and it's possible we misunderstood our server's point, which may have been simply that the rice is Italian in origin. My minor - and it turns out clumsily realized quibble - was that the rice was just too firm for rice pudding (while our lasagna didn't seem firm enough). This was a small point and, in hindsight, wasn't really worth getting into.

For all those who felt CIA-superior for knowing your rice, you can thank me for the ego boost, especially on a chilly Monday morning. And for those who didn't notice and skimmed right over the error, let me reflect the spirit of my email in-box today: HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY BE SO DUMB?

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