Nilubok: traditionally milled rice
Just when I started to cut down on my carbohydrates, my dad recently sent me a few kilos of nilubok – a traditionally milled rice characterized by its uneven grains. It came from somewhere in Zamboanga del Norte, although rice of this kind is common in the Cordilleras in Luzon and other highland communities in the Philippines.
If you could see from the picture above, the nilubok’s grains do not look pretty. This is perhaps due to the fact that these were milled by hand. The painstaking process is done by a contraption that looks like a large mortar and pestle. I gather that the incessant pounding is calculated, careful and requires a lot of patience too to ensure that no grain falls off the ground.
What the nilubok may lack in aesthetics, it has more than made up for its fragrant aroma, nutritional value and taste. The first time I cooked the nilubok rice, I immediately noticed a wonderful smell wafting from the kitchen. The scent is akin to that of pandan or that of thedinorado rice. How it got that smell is beyond me though. Maybe because of the pounding or because of its variety or because no fertilizers were used when it was planted.
My dad also added that the rice tasted so good, you won’t need any viand or dish to come with it. And true enough, he was right. I could easily finish a bowl of this rice even if it is paired with pork tocino and scrambled eggs, which are just a few of my favorite dietary concessions every now and then.
The nilubok came in a small box a few weeks back. My father said that it was a belated birthday present of some sort and that he hoped that it would be sufficient for me. I told him that I would never go hungry, or at least for the remaining months of the year.
This heartwarming gesture reminded me of the many times I brought with me a few kilos of rice from our home to Iligan City, where I studied in college. Now that I am based in Metro Manila, I smiled at the thought that are just some things that would not change even with my imaginary resolve to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Rice is definitely one of these, and it will definitely continue to occupy a space in my kitchen cupboard wherever I find myself next.