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More on Rice

We think that you'll be interested in the story behind Tastic Rice's journey from the field to your dinner table.

The history of rice and its cultivation can be traced way back to about 2 800 BC when the Chinese emperor Sheng Namg issued a decree on rice planting. In recognition of the importance of rice to his people, annual rice ceremonies were established, some of which are still joyfully celebrated today.

Rice (Oryza Sativa) is a unique cereal grain from the grass family (Graminae). The plant is an annual and grows between 60-80cm high. It has a round, jointed stem with long, pointed leaves. The rice seeds, which end up in your scrumptious recipes, are found in dense heads on separate stalks.

Interestingly, wild rice comes from an aquatic grass that is related to the rice plant. Human beings have been cooking rice for centuries. In fact, Hindu and Buddhist scriptures refer to rice as an important offering to the gods and a staple food in their diet. They recognised how valuable this delicious food source was to humankind. Soldiers, explorers, pilgrims and merchants allegedly took seeds to foreign countries where they were planted.

Certain climates were found to be unsuited for rice cultivation. However, conditions in parts of America and Europe (such as Italy and Spain) proved ideal and made for a thriving rice industry. It's believed that the cultivation of rice in America was quite accidental.

Legend has it that in 1685 a storm-battered ship that had blown off course docked at the harbour in Charleston harbour, South Carolina. Friendly colonists helped repair the ship. The captain rewarded them with a small bag of rice seed. By 1700, enterprising colonists had established rice as a major crop and shipped 300 tons to England and by 1726, more than 4 000 tons of rice was being exported annually! Various other myths and legends surround this unique grain, such as in Indonesia where a girl is supposedly only ready to get married when she can prepare rice skilfully.

Rice is also thrown at newlyweds 'showering' them with prosperity and fertility. It has been central to important celebrations and milestones for centuries. In Bali, rice is treated with respect and considered a gift of the gods by many, and it is a Japanese legend that soaking rice before cooking releases life energy and gives the person eating it a more powerful soul.

In fact, in both Chinese and Japanese languages the word 'cooked rice' is also the word for 'food'. This century rice has become increasingly popular with western cultures and is a feature on every family's menu at least once a week. Here at home, the influence of Eastern and Malay cuisine in our culture has made rice a firm favourite on our menu. Every mother knows that a tasty Babotie would not be the same without the fluffy goodness of Tastic rice!

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