The origin of rice is still a complete mystery. Even today we do not know when rice was discovered and brought into people’s homes and maybe this is one fact we will never come to know.
It is probably a descendent of wild grass that was cultivated in the summits of the Eastern Himalayas. However, rice might also be from southern India and then spread to the north of the country. Then from India, the plant spread to China (where recent studies show that all forms of Asian rice where domesticated in a domestication event 8,200 – 13,500 years ago in “Pearl River” valley region of China) then east to Korea, the Philippines in 2000 B.C , Japan and Indonesia in 1000 B.C. The Persians are known to also have been importers of rice. Some say that when Alexander the Great invaded India in 327 B.C., one his most prized possessions he carried back with him was rice.
This study shows that rice has been around for thousands of years, but how did they cook rice? Well they cooked rice similarly to by using steam or boiling it depending on what type of dish they were preparing or the kind of rice they were using for example: long, medium, and short-grained. Long usually stays intact after cooked; medium becomes sticky and was used in Italy for risottos and short-grained would have been used in China where the first rice puddings were made.
This survey shows that there are 7 billion people in the world and an astonishing 4.6 billion people eat rice every day.
Geography of Rice and International Dishes
Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice) are the two main staple grains of rice grown in (as mentioned) Africa and Asia however rice is also grown in Europe where they use a lot of rice in their cuisine for example; paella, risotto, Arroz con pollo and many more. Also rice dishes are extremely popular in Asian cuisine as rice is freshly grown there. A few Asian rice dishes are; Dolma, Jiu niang, Khao na pet and lumpia.
Rice has been found in medieval Chinese walls where it was added for strength and stability. More than half the labour force in Thailand is involved in rice production. In 1997, the Laotian news agency reported that farmers had successfully completed trials using pig manure as a snail repellent on rice crops. Rice is a symbol of life and fertility, which is why rice was traditionally thrown at weddings. In Burma the average person consumes about 500 pounds of rice a year. There are more than 40,000 varieties of rice that grow across every continent except on Antarctica. In 2008, a craze was started in Japan for rice-filled bags called ‘Dakigokochi’ for new-born babies. They were shaped like a bundled baby and printed with the new-born’s face and name. In India, rice is associated with prosperity and with the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. A Taiwanese artist has carved a portrait of the new Chinese leader Xi Jinping on a grain of rice.