I'll Never Be Too Old For Rice Pudding (or Homesickness)

July 19, 2017

Blueberries straight from the pint—does it get much better? Oh, it does. We partnered with the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to share simple, flavorful recipes that are sweet, savory, and everything in between. Here, our Senior Staff Writer and Food Stylist Sarah tells us her formula to combat homesickness: rice pudding + blueberries. 

When you are ten years old, your sister refers to her trip back to college as "going home" and your heart endures a hairline fracture. Unimaginable. 

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But the first time you call the new place home, it slips out of your mouth like a piece of sashimi. You slurp the word up as soon as it comes out and hope that no one notices. You say a prayer that you are not in earshot of your parents.

You feel guilty for your disloyalty. You are a traitor when old names no longer conjure faces. You eat olives and capers and anchovies and raw fish and other unthinkables you used to shove away. You walk around a big city and pretend to know your way even when you are sweaty and lost. You forget what it's like to sleep in your childhood bed. You make fun of your parents and their habits even though you wish you were still small enough to hug their legs, to reach up to grab a blueberry from their palms.  

At least the rice pudding is a time capsule—a recipe that will exist on your mom's 3-by-5 in the acrylic box post-apocalypse. It's less complicated than anything you cook these days—no smoky spices or unusual "dairy" products or bain marie. It's pleasantly eggy and perfectly simple—all light and warmth, a knitted Afghan of a food. 

You'll add a black sesame crumble with tahini and some macerated blueberries (that is: blueberries tossed with sugar and left to sit) because you can't un-learn the things you've learned—even when you know this uppity tweak will make your parents roll their eyes.

Still, the taste makes you think of your kitchen table. It tastes good despite the tear-ball that's surging in your throat.

You'll never grow out of homesickness. Because homesickness is not just about missing the place but missing who you were at that place—missing when you were calmed by a mug of warmed Hershey's chocolate milk; when you accepted a parent's hug with no detachment; when the most important thing was making sure your notes from pre-algebra were thorough; when you weren't worrying about pets or grandparents edging toward death or dodging roaches on the street or pulling out a hair for each What-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life thought or...

The rice pudding. Eat the rice pudding. Put on the White Album, eat some rice pudding, and have a good cry.

Rice Pudding with Sesame Crumble and Macerated Blueberries

Rice pudding recipe from my mom via who knows where; sesame crumble from Grace Parisi via Food & Wine 

Serves 6 to 8

For the rice pudding:

1/2 cup rice
1 quart milk
1/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup (scant) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the sesame crumble and the blueberries:

2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon tahini
1 1/2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

We partnered with the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to bring you a slew of simple, flavorful recipes you can pop blueberries into easy-peasy. No time to make sesame crumble or macerate blueberries? Just skip the crumble and use fresh blueberries instead. Get more recipes, ideas, and tips for blueberries here.

Rice pudding + blueberries make us feel like we're at home, so we're rerunning this article from September 2015. Second photo by James Ransom; all others by Bobbi Lin

This article links to other articles not associated with the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Sara D. April 25, 2017
Love mom always made a baked rice pudding growing up (so I never even knew the stove top kind was a thing for years) so I've always loved it. It was the special, "it's a snow day and mom will let us eat rice pudding for dinner" kind of meal. I suddenly want some. :)
joy February 26, 2016
haven;t tried the recipe yet, but the article is Wonderfully written, and the food beautifully photographed... but next time, get someone to iron the tablecloth.
maryke April 26, 2017
Oh please don't (iron the tablecloth)! That is what linen is supposed to look like.
Riddley G. September 10, 2015
I love this (and the recipe) infinite amounts.
walkie74 September 10, 2015
I'm lucky--I see my 80 year old mother every Sunday, and she always makes me breakfast when I come over. I've never felt homesick, because I have two homes. But I know there will come a time when she's no longer able to scold me about my clothes, or make me my favorite food for my birthday. Then I'll really be feeling that tear ball.
Kristen M. September 9, 2015
This is exactly what I want to be eating, and reading, when my next tear-ball hits. I'm glad to know about this one too, because I bet it's good:
hnickerson September 9, 2015
So much to love about this, Sarah.
Posie (. September 9, 2015
"pleasantly eggy" <3
Caroline L. September 9, 2015
i seem to have developed that back-of-the-throat tear-ball while reading this.
Ali S. September 9, 2015
If you can't eat this rice pudding for dessert, breakfast, lunch, dessert, then breakfast again—like I tried to—the extra crumble is delightful on yogurt.
Kenzi W. September 9, 2015
I ate bowls of this rice pudding the week we made it to shoot it—and it made everything okay.