Food Snob Chronicles — Rice 101
It is the second most grown crop (corn is first) in the world — harvested on every continent (except Antarctica). It is a staple of the extremely impoverished, but also served to the uncommonly wealthy. There are more than 80,000 plant varieties that produce this seed pod, but we know it as just one four-letter word.
There’s enough history and information about rice to write a book. Here are just a few interesting facts.
- Asian countries produce about 90 percent of the world’s rice. In the US, more rice is grown in Arkansas than any other state.
- Rice is low in sodium (0 g) and fat (0 g) and contains no cholesterol.
- Rice is good with gravy, or steeped in cream and sugar. It’s also used to make flour, beer, wine and vinegar, among other things.
- Follow the labels: Long Grain Rice is longer and slender — great as a side; Medium Grain cooks up slightly plumper — also good as a side, and also sold as risotto (Arborio); Short grain is almost round and is good for molded salads. Good luck finding it in a regular market.
- The difference between brown and white rice? Flavor and nutrition. Brown rice includes the bran that surrounds the seed — or kernel. It takes longer to cook, but is more nutritious.
- Rice, along with corn, are popular among large US breweries in the production of beer. According to several sources, Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser, Michelob, Shock Top, Land Shark) uses genetically modified rice.
- When rice is cooked, it swells to about three times its original size.
Did you know? Rice is a type of grass that, botanically speaking, belongs to the genus Oryza. Now you know why that rice-shaped pasta is called Orzo.
Now, to the nuts and bolts of cooking rice. This method is not only ‘greener’ on the environment (less power to cook it), it also provides beautiful firm grains that separate easily.