Welcome to Saturday's Potluck
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
Rice one of the most popular grains in the world. The varieties available in the local market keeps expanding. White rice is stable in storage for significant time and is one of the bulk foods I keep in the pantry.
Rice, like other grains, is the edible seed of a grass. It is unique among grains in that it was domesticated not once, not twice, but three times, on three different continents. (See, we really, really love it!)
The rice that most of us are familiar with today comes from Oryza sativa, subspecies of which produce rice as varied as the vinegared stuff used in sushi and the long and fluffy grains found in biryani, and it was domesticated in China anywhere between 8,200 and 13,500 years ago.
While the rice domesticated in Brazil no longer exists, having been abandoned after European colonizers arrived, African rice (Oryza glaberrima) was domesticated some 2,000 to 3,000 years ago and is still grown today, although solely for sustenance; it is unlikely you'll ever find examples of it in stores.
Once domesticated, Oryza sativa spread across Asia and, subsequently, the world, but not before two major subspecies emerged. The japonica subspecies of rice is marked by short, fat grains that are typically sticky when cooked; "sushi" rice is japonica, as are the varieties of rice traditionally used in Italian risotto, such as Carnaroli and arborio. Then there's the indica variety, which has long, thin grains that are drier and flakier when cooked. Basmati rice is one of the most widely known examples, and those big bags of Carolina rice you see at the grocery store are also of the indica variety.
Rice is also classified according to the way it's grown, with the main distinctions being upland versus lowland rice (terms that refer to the altitude at which the rice grows) and irrigated versus rainfed rice (terms that refer to the water source used).
My favorite way to cook is white rice 1 part rice to two parts liquid, boil for 15 minutes, turn off heat, leave lid on and let sit 5 minutes. For dryer fluffy rice stir at release the extra steam.
Two basic methods of cooking plain rice.
Adding flavors during the cooking process.
A Surprising Story: Summing up the history of paella
Alright, let’s get this straight.
If this is the history of paella, it took a pretty unlikely set of events to make it the Spanish icon that it is today. It started life off in Valencia, when the local Moors put a twist on the Arabic dish that formed part of their gastronomic heritage.
Over time, it became the favourite lunchtime meal of farmworkers toiling in the fields outside the main city. Then, when trips to the country became popular just a couple of centuries ago, it got brought into the wider Valencian culture.
And then in the most surprising turn of events, it turned out to be the favourite meal of Spain’s fascist leader, Francisco Franco. And when he started putting together his vision for a singular Spanish nationalist identity, paella got the tick of approval.
So the next time that you tuck into a plate of paella, just think about the weird and whacky series of events that got it to your plate.
Don't worry about technique, just get the rice cooked with good flavors.
What is on your mind today?