Author(s): Renee Marton
From jambalaya to risotto, curry to nasi kandar, few foods are as ubiquitous in our meals as rice. A dietary staple and indispensable agricultural product from Asia to the Americas, the grain can be found in Michelin restaurants and family kitchens alike. In this engaging culinary history, Renee Marton explores the role rice has played in society and the food economy as it journeyed from its beginnings in Asia and West Africa to global prominence.
Examining the early years of rice's burgeoning popularity, Marton shows that trade of the grain was driven by profit from both high status export rice and the lower-quality versions that fed countless laborers. In addition to urbanization and the increase in marketing and advertising, she reveals that rice's rise to supremacy also came through its consumption by slave, indentured servant, and immigrant communities. She also considers the significance rice has in cultural rituals, literature, music, painting, and poetry. She even shows how the specific rice one consumes can have great importance in distinguishing one's identity within an ethnic group. Chock full of delicious recipes from across the globe, Rice is a fascinating look at how this culinary staple has defined us.