Rice has long ceased to be just another agricultural produce, and in fact assumes a character that is intricately linked to the well-being and prosperity of an entire nation – truly, the king of cereals.
Grown collectively by almost a billion people around the globe, rice – or Oryza Sativa – is regarded as the predominant staple crop which feeds almost half the world’s population. Rice was first cultivated nearly 12000 years ago, in the Yangstze river valley of China. Today, it is grown in or exported to every major economy of the world, with the USA itself accounting for 12% of the overall rice trade.
Asia is the most prolific producer of rice with China, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, Myanmar and Bangladesh forming the biggest rice basket of the world. Given its widespread acceptance and ease of preparation, it is very difficult indeed to imagine a wholesome meal of which rice is not an integral part. Infact, quite a number of delicacies are also prepared with rice. These include spicy wholesome spreads to delicious desserts. Preparations like risotto, arros negre, sushi and rice-pudding are few of the most sought after spreads hailing from cuisines all over the world!
Things to Know:
In most Asian countries, rice is regarded as ‘holy’ and forms a part of many customs and rituals. In India, rice is symbolic of Lakshmi – the Goddess of Wealth. Rice and vermillion are also a tool to ward away the ‘Evil Eye’.
A certain deity is worshipped as the rice goddess in Cambodia and Laos, and not only ritual offerings but also structured, local folklores surround the devotion of such a God-figure. Other countries like Japan, Nepal and Thailand also observe repeated and substantive use of rice as a part of various traditional practices.