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South Korean Sporkful Eater Challenges Rachel Maddow’s Claim

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May 05, 2011

Rice

When we give guests our special Proust-style food questionnaire, included is the question, "Name one food that is not improved by the addition of either melted cheese or hot fudge." We asked this question of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow when she joined us, and her answer was "rice."

That response stirred listener Sam from South Korea's fertile mind:

I've been thinking about this question quite a bit. I've yet to find a better answer than Rachel's, but I did do the next best thing, which is find a way to discredit her answer.

In Korea, there's a popular version of bibimbop (rice topped with mixed vegetables and chili sauce) called dolsot bibimbop (stone-pot bibimbop) that's prepared in a piping hot stone pot, which browns the rice and vegetables as you eat. For the past few years in Korea, people have been experimenting with different ingredients to mix in, and one popular variation is prepared by added shredded pizza cheese on top, and usually mixed with something spicy like kimchi. Here are some pictures for evidence.

I don't know if this counts as an answer, as the rice is not in its original state, but browned and mixed with vegetables and sauce. Anyhow, if this does count as "rice", then it certainly can be made better by the addition of cheese. . . Most people who have lived in Korea in the past five or ten years would be able to attest to the awesomeness of cheese dolsot bibimbop.

I love, love, love Korean food, including bibimbop. I have had many varieties of it, but not with cheese, which means I will have to go forth and do so soon.

(NOTE: Rachel's comment came in a special bonus episode available only to Sporkful supporters. It is well worth your time, especially for the sincere and truly awe-inspiring answer Rachel gave to the question, "If Heaven exists, what would you like to see on the menu?" If you'd like to hear this and other exclusive content, with folks like comedian Todd Barry and NPR/Radiolab's Robert Krulwich, as well as get a fantastic Sporkful t-shirt, hand-packed by Dan and me, donate here and watch your life change for the better.)
/mark

Photo: Flickr CC / stevendepolo

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