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Rice and its origin

Where would our average plate of makan be without being accompanied by a healthy serving of rice? Rice is a food staple for more than 3.5 billion folk around the world, mainly in Asia but also in India, South America and parts of Africa.Rice is a very versatile crop,it is cheap and easy to grow, very prolific and of course has a high energy value.My helper contends that she is 'powered by rice' and without a daily hearty serving, her 'batteries' would go flat very quickly!

White rice is much preferred and more widely eaten than the brown,unpolished variety. The brown variety however is more nutritious but its shelf life tends not to last as long as white rice, as the fatty acids, it contains, tend to go bad after 6 months or so.

We Asians (this Mat Salleh counts himself as more asian now, having lived more than half of my life here), tend to prefer white rice as its texture is smoother and it is easier to chew and digest. Believe it or not, there is an element of 'snob' value in the eating of white rice.

Some older asians refuse to eat brown rice because it is a sign of poverty and have been conditioned into believing that prosperous folk eat white rice, whilst peasants eat the brown variety. Ironically however, these days, brown rice costs more than the white variety!

Allegedly traces of rice husks were discovered by archaeologists in China, which carbon dating proved were some 10,000 years old, Rice was the first cultivated crop of Asia and the so called 'Oryza Sativa' (or asian variety), has spread around the world, first to East Asia and then by migration and trade, further abroad to India, the Americas and Africa.

I remember as a young school boy in the UK, being subjected to rice, as a pudding.

The lunch ladies in school, ladled out steaming molten rice, which was cooked in evaporated milk and often very sticky and lumpy. The saving grace of the dish, was a generous blob of jam, placed in the middle of the dish, which when mixed up, turned the dessert a nice pink colour. I must confess, if Rice Pudding was served as the dessert in school, a resounding groan would reverterate from the students.The distinct preference being 'plum pudding' or 'spotted dick', swimming in custard.

Fortunately, due to my mothers roots in Malaya, rice was often served at home with Kari Ayam, so we kids were all 'rice babies' from very young, although chips served out of an old newspaper, soaked in malt vinegar, with a liberal sprinkling of salt, was still favoured!

To illustrate the popularity of rice however, in my hometown of Cardiff, Wales, there is

a street known as 'Chip Alley', which is a row of Fish and Chip shops.When ordering your Fish and Chips, they will ask you whether you would like 'Half and Half' which is half rice and half chips!! This is often accompanied by a small container of curry sauce. Yes folks, the British palate is at last changing!


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