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History of Rice

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A long time ago, in ancient times, the azure sky was located closer to the ground. Therefore the gods often went down to Earth, and saints spent more time in heaven. One day, a brave and fair young man found himself in heaven. By chance, he saw rice and was very surprised. On Earth, people did not know such plants. One of the gods treated the young man to some cooked rice. It was so good that the young man wanted to bring it to people on Earth. However, the keepers of the sky forbade him to take it, saying that the rice is a food of gods. After descending from heaven to Earth, the man was sitting cross-legged on the ground and thinking over the problem. Suddenly he noticed cracks on his heels. He went again into heaven, hid the seeds of rice in the cracks and brought them to the Earth. It is an old Asian legend that tells the story of how people began to cultivate rice.

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Rice is a very precious product for the majority of the population of the planet. Rice has Asian, specifically, Chinese roots. When talking about the origin of rice, first of all, people think about China with its culture of cultivating cereals, with its variety of cooking options, and total conquest of all of Asia with the delicious meal of rice. In fact, the birthplace of rice is in South Asia, in suchcountries as India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and China, where rice was cultivated almost from the Stone Age.  Rice was mentioned in the oldest written sources of China, in 2800 BC. Almost five thousand years ago, rice was cultivated extensively. Rice first gained fame in Europe immediately after the campaigns of Alexander the Great in India. From the eighth century Arabs and Islam contributed to the spread of rice to the West, in Egypt and Libya. The total area occupied by rice paddy fields is now about one hundred and twenty million hectares, and almost 90% of those millions are situated in Asia. Quite a lot of rice is grown in Argentina and Peru, Brazil and Uruguay. In Europe, rice grows in Italy, in its southern areas. Portugal and Holland imported rice from its colonies in West Africa; and then through Columbus rice was brought to America. In such a way rice became a present from the Old World to the New. Two centuries after the voyages of Columbus, it was widespread in America. In 700 BC it was brought to Spain. From there in the 17th century, rice got to South America.

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Rice's journey around the world has been slow, but it became one of the main products for people across the globe. In Northern and Central India, besides being an important part of the daily food, rice occupies an importtant place at festivals and special events. Nowadays, rice is the staple food from the Pacific Islands to the Japanese, Arab, and African countries. More than 10000 rice varieties were found in the Philippine Islands, of which 5000 were withdrawn by people.

Naturally, being a plant of an ancient culture, today rice has approximately ten thousand different varieties, related to two main types: plain rice and round rice. There is also Indian basmati rice, which is fragrant rice. Its scent and taste are different from Thai jasmine rice and other fragrant species of rice. Some describe this fragrance as the odor of popcorn. Rice grows in the Northern Punjab region between India and Pakistan. This rice is the most expensive kind of rice in the world. Basmati rice has a high content of amylose and the firm almost a dry texture. There are many types of basmati rice in the United States, but they do not have the same unique taste, flavor, texture and appearance.

Rice is the symbol of Asian culture. Until the end of the 19thcentury, the amount of rice one ate was considered a measure of human health. Every year, each resident of Japan eats approximately 180 liters of rice. The passage of time never stops, but rice remains the basis for Asian food to this day.

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