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Rice

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Rice is a complex subject as it is practically its own food group. Rice is a grain grown in damp conditions throughout the world. There are at least as many varieties of rice as there are countries. Almost every culture on Earth has some use for rice as a food product.

Each rice-producing country is sure that theirs is the most superior. Particularly in Asia, great pride is taken in rice production. Japan serves steamed rice for any meal (including breakfast, although normally as a savory). It is an integral part of Turkish cuisine, served with Ukrainian Borscht, Thai food, Malaysian dishes, Mexican, and the United States of America even produces a puffed version coated in sugar and served with milk for breakfast1.

Rice is a divine food product that can stand alone, or in addition to meats, vegetables and other dishes on top, mixed in with it, or underneath a fine white blanket of butter-kissed rice. There are a seemingly endless number of ways to serve rice:

  • Rice puddings - gelatinous
  • Rice soups - creamy and wild
  • Rice cakes - rigid and taste-free
  • Sushi and sashimi - rice wrapped in seaweed
  • Steamed rice - with or without many additional ingredients
  • Boiled rice
  • Other foods stuffed with rice
  • Rice casseroles
  • Rice and beans - which makes a complete protein food source2
  • Fried rice - as in 'with shrimp'3
  • Sticky rice - a glutinous parcel of rice with pork, nuts and raisins, wrapped in a banana leaf

The rice grain is generally ¼ to 2cm in length, covered with a husk (when brown) or polished (when white), and is an excellent source of starch. Risotto, short grain, long grain, curry, sushi, Anne4... Ah rice...

The term 'rice paper' is used for two different things:

  • An edible paper used in cooking and made from rice.

  • A fine, thin paper used for printing. This in fact contains no rice at all. Apparently the term 'rice paper' is analogous to calling paper from Italy 'pasta paper' or paper from Israel 'matzoh paper'. The use of the term 'rice paper' to refer to several types of Japanese paper is in fact a 19th Century colonial invention.

1Battle Creek, Michigan, USA is the home of Kellogg's, the original Rice Krispies company, which justifiably proud of its contribution to the much loved grain.2And is good in countries where meat is expensive or inaccesible. It's also why vegetarians wouldn't do very well without it.3Shrimp fried rice is most excellent when served with a glass of vodka and cranberry juice, also known as a Cape Cod.4Sorry.

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