What is Orzo?

Published 6:32 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I arrived home late after keeping Will & Laura, two of my three grandchildren, in Dothan for my wife to attend a meeting. Mary Lou is staying with them for the week while their parents are out of town. “Can you keep them for a few hours on Monday night?” she asked. “All you have to do is feed them and put them to bed.” Sounded easy enough.

Laura is six years old and Will is two. They are both easy going and fun to be around. Laura believes she could keep Will by herself, and I halfway agree with her. Will just learned to clearly say “Granddaddy” and he delights in saying it over and over, at the front end of endless questions.

It turns out their mother fixed my favorite dish, Chicken Divan, for dinner. It is Laura’s favorite dish as well, proving there is a genetic link between food preferences. However, when Laura told me to get out the Orzo to mix with the chicken, I was a little lost. Not wanting to let her know that I didn’t know everything about anything, I asked like I hadn’t heard her, “Get out the what?”

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She quickly knew I had no idea what she was talking about. “It’s like rice, Granddaddy. We don’t eat rice here.” Sure enough, there in the refrigerator was a bowl of what looked like large kernel rice. “Just put it in the microwave”, she said, sparing me the embarrassment of asking what to do with the Orzo.

To my surprise, it was good. It was very good. I still didn’t know what it was, but it tasted just like rice.

I checked the rice lookalike out on the internet when I got home and found that Orzo is a type of a short cut pasta, shaped in the form of a rice kernel. Thinking there must be a nutritional reason for a food that looks like rice and tastes like rice, but is really something else, I checked that out on the internet too.

It turns out rice and Orzo aren’t that different nutritionally. Some believe rice is better for you and others believe Orzo is best. By the way, Orzo is Italian for “barley”, although it is made from wheat. It was named for its grain like shape.

The educational dinner over, we went over to watch a children’s program when Will asked his easiest question of the night for me to answer, “Granddaddy, can I sit in your lap?”

We finally moved around until I was reading both of them a book, with both of them snuggled up against me. Sweet.

While reading and explaining all about dinosaurs, I got the next question. “Granddaddy, how do the dinosaurs lay their eggs?” Thinking about it a few seconds, I took the cowardly path every grandfather takes occasionally in his life and said “Why don’t you ask Granny when she gets back.”

I loved every minute of my four hour stay with those two, but there is a special ease that Grandmothers, no matter what name they are called, have for keeping grandkids for multiple days at the time. Besides, I am sure Granny already knew all about Orzo and how dinosaurs lay eggs.