The first time I tried arroz con leche was at a Guatemalan restaurant in LA. My brother and I (not strong Spanish speakers) ordered a feast worth of dishes we knew little about in an effort to be “adventurous.” Arroz con leche was among them. We asked our waitress, wide-eyed, what arroz con leche was, to which she blankly said, “rice with milk.”
It is so much more than rice with milk, though. It’s a sweet, milky version of rice pudding boosted by its cinnamon and raisin components. Shocked to have unveiled such a culinary revelation, I asked our waitress for the recipe and (once she stopped laughing) she told me that depending on a number of factors, arroz con leche can be made many different ways. Some use orange zest instead of lemon, some use butter and sugar in their pudding, and still others use a cinnamon stick and whole cloves for flavor during cooking. Herewith, my simple tribute to an awe-inspiring discovery.