[Sca-cooks] Period medieval rice, brown or white?
dragon at crimson-dragon.com
Thu Jul 24 09:11:04 PDT 2008
Stefan li Rous wrote:
>Most rice in the U.S., brown and white, is long-grain rice, which is
>I suspect you are really objecting. Short grain and medium grain
>to be starchier, cook better and have better flavor. Some of the health
>food brown rices I have encountered have actually been partially hulled
>brown rice with a lot of chaff remaining. Nutritional--maybe, but
>textural and taste deficient.
The specific varieties of long grain rice cultivated and sold in the
U.S. are relatively bland and neutral compared to other types of
rice, but to say that long grain rice in and of itself is flavorless
is a rather long stretch. Both Basmati and Jasmine rice varieties are
long grain cultivars and are both extremely fragrant and flavorful.
The method of cooking is also extremely important in bringing out the
unique flavor of each rice. Overcooking and over-softening of the
typical American variety white rice is responsible for a lot of the
dismal reputation it has in my opinion. When properly cooked, it has
a good, clean flavor that is a nice base for other things.
Personally, I think every type of rice has a distinct flavor, which
in some cases is pronounced and in others is subtle. I can't eat as
much of it as I used to so I no longer have 7 to 10 varieties in the
house at any time. Each variety had it's own distinct flavor and I
enjoyed all of them from time to time on their own with no condiment
or accompaniment. I also found that the flavors of a given regional
cuisine most often worked best with the variety of rice from each
region, though there were times that I found I liked a different
variety better with a given dish.
>But what I don't find in there is clear evidence of whether medieval
>European rice tended to be brown or white or either. Presumably,
>there would have been a preference for white similar to that of
>"white bread" at least for the nobility. But it does take more effort
>to mill/polish away the brown coating, but again the nobles weren't
>unknown for doing such extravegances. Was there a technical
>difficulty in hulling/polishing the rice?
>Anyone have any comments?
Rice milling and de-husking has been going on in Asia for centuries,
perhaps millennia. I don't see the availability of white rice in
period as being much of a problem because it stands to reason to me
that the technology to do this moved with the grain out of Asia as it
was introduced into new areas. I'm wondering if there might be some
period sources dealing with agricultural practices of growing rice
that might shed light on this. I think it would be more likely to
find an answer in such sources than in cooking manuscripts. As we all
know, cooking sources often rely on what is supposed to be common
knowledge in the time they were written, very often what was common
knowledge never gets written down and may be lost to subsequent generations.
I'll leave this with one final thought... I'd be willing to bet that
blancmange wouldn't be called blancmange had they been using brown rice...
Venimus, Saltavimus, Bibimus (et naribus canium capti sumus)
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