As Sunday is the day for “Is My Blog Burning“, and it’s ingredient du jour is rice, I figured it was as good as time as any to discuss this particular grain that has found its way into our lives.
Rice has probably fed more people than any other grain in the history of mankind. No one is sure of the exact moment it came onto the scene, but best estimates put it prior to that of any civilized society. Rice, my friends, is old school.
It’s probably safe to say that humans liked to congregate around rivers and streams that tend to flow into other bodies of water. The topography of such areas is often condusive to rice growing, especially in areas of Southest Asia some 15,000 years ago. It would take only a little leap of faith to say that the domestication of rice came quickly by those who populated such areas, probably around what is now Thailand. The rice growing meme took off from there
There are two types of Cultivated rice: O. sativa and O. glaberrima, with the O. sativa kind beign more ubiquitous. There are several sub types of rice under O. sativa, including O. rufipogon, which leads into the several variations found in South Asian, Chinese, New Guinean, Australian, and American forms.
Keep in mind that rice did not appear in the Western Hemishpere until teh Europeans brought it over during their age of Exploration. As riceweb mentions: The Portuguese carried it to Brazil, and the Spanish introduced its cultivation to several locations in Central and South America. The first record for North America dates from 1685, when the crop was produced on the coastal lowlands and island of what is now South Carolina. The crop may well have been carried to that area by slaves brought from Madagascar. Early in the 18th century, rice spread to Louisiana, but not until the 20th century was it produced in California’s Sacramento Valley.
Rice is now such a diverse crop , that there are dozens of different varieties, classified (but not limited to) by color and/or length. For example:
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