Where does rice come from? The first traces of this white grain make no mystery, the rice is Asian, and its origin is as old as civilization itself, 7000 years! And during these thousands of years, he has seen the country China, India, Pakistan, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, and Peru (to name a few); Rice has a full passport. Let's set off together to discover this extraordinary conquest around the world. So, Happy reading!
Cultivation, Growth and Harvest of the Rice Plant
Rice is a cereal derived from a plant belonging to the Poaceae family. The latter has no less than 12,000 different varieties grouped into 780 genres, just that! Planting is done from April to May, and the plants flower three months later, from July to August. The last stage of the harvest is from September to October. The plants are special because they require special climatic conditions, which means that rice can only grow in regions with tropical climates.
The harvest is done with the chaff, that is to say, with the film that surrounds the rice. This protects the grain of rice, of course, but also the germ that is inside! Well attached to the grain, the husk can only be separated from the rice with difficulty, and it is the man who takes care of it using special machines.
How was rice created?
Heading For the Rice Fields of Hunan in Central China
Researchers do not all agree on the exact date and place of its appearance in China, but we know for sure that the first variety of cultivated basmati rice was domesticated from wild rice called Oryza rufipogon (good to know!). It is estimated all the same as the beginning of the culture of rice between -2500 and -3000 years before JC in the province of Hunan in central China. This mountainous region is rainy and crossed by many rivers and rivers. An environment is very conducive to the development of rice growing! Since its appearance, this grain has remained the staple food of the Chinese. It is even said that in the past, it was common to greet each other by saying, "Have you eaten your rice today?"
The Evolution of Rice
The ancestors of the Oryzées were originally found in Africa and Eurasia. For a long time, the different varieties of rice remained essentially the same, with few DNA changes. It is animal migration that favoured the movement of the plants they carried. It was then their domestication by humans that perpetuated them.
Who introduced rice back to Europe?
From His Conquest of Asia to His Arrival in Europe
Once rice cultivation has started in southern China, it can't be stopped! It spreads across the whole country and descends rapidly towards southern India. There, the grain is welcomed with great fanfare, and the rice-growing area of India becomes the largest in the world! It is cultivated in all states of the country. Like a conquistador, it continues its momentum in Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Soon all of South Asia is cultivating this cereal, a source of fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
Helped by the Persians (who are known to be big importers) and the troops of Alexander the Great, who were returning from India in 320 BC, he continued to make his way to Greece. This is how he landed for the first time on European soil. It does not meet with the same dazzling success as in Asia, but it is still making a place of choice in our kitchens!
How is rice grown worldwide?
An Expansion from East to West Thanks to Frequent Travelers
After Europe, it is the turn of North Africa to start growing rice, thanks to the Arabs who bring it back to Egypt and Morocco. It became, around the 10th century, a must on the plates of the whole continent as far as Madagascar! The Moors, who are Berbers from North Africa, take over by transporting the rice to Spain, then to Italy. The Turks are responsible for transporting it to Southeastern Europe.
Rice in the Rest of the World
But it is not satisfied; our grain is thirsty for discoveries, adventures, and, above all, new horizons! It is the Portuguese and the Spaniards who will help him conquer the last continent where he is not yet present America! The Portuguese brought him back to Brazil, while the Spaniards introduced him to Central and South America.
Finally, rice landed on the coasts of South Carolina in the 17th century, brought back to the holds of ships coming from Madagascar to serve as currency and gifts.
Growing Rice in the 21st Century
Asia is no longer the only region where rice is grown. Yes, even if the main producing countries remain China and India, Western countries are also getting involved. This is explained by the fact that producing countries self-consume the majority or even all of their production. Europe, the United States, and South Africa have therefore developed their own rice cultivation.
Do you feel like you've travelled the world in a few minutes thanks to this book? Well, our favourite grain has taken thousands of years to conquer and is now well-established!
So much so that it is on the podium alongside wheat and corn among the most consumed cereals in the world; rice remains the second cereal in the world and feeds half of the population.
We leave on a little Chinese proverb, "Those who have no luck will not have rice."
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