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Rice | Culture and culinary

Not all rice is the same, as more than 120,000 rice varieties alone make clear.

Rice is also not just white, but can be brown, black and red. Its variety of shapes is just as surprising as its subtle flavors, which can be reminiscent of flowers or herbs and taste nutty, mushroomy or cucumber-fresh, even without spices or ingredients. The grain is one of the world‘s most important staple foods, with only corn, wheat and sugar cane grown in even greater quantities. Global rice consumption is estimated at 509 million metric tons in 2021/2022, with China leading the way in production and per capita consumption of around 120 kg per year. But rice is not only the No. 1 staple food in Japan, China, India, Indonesia and other Asian countries, and is exported from there all over the world: Ever since Alexander the Great brought rice to Europe, the grain has been known as a food and medicinal product. Today, Italy, France and Spain are among the most important rice-growing regions in Europe.

In Spain, rice has been known since the times of the Moors, who probably came into contact with rice through contacts with Arabia and Persia and came to know and appreciate it. They brought the grain to the Iberian Peninsula as early as the 10th century. Andalusia and Extremadura are the main Spanish rice-growing areas, especially for the long-grain rice of the Indica group, which is often used as a side dish.

World-famous rice specialties, on the other hand, are grown in the Ebro Delta, in Murcia and in the Albufera lagoon near Valencia. The grandiose nature reserve of the lagoon is one of the most important wetlands in Europe and was transformed from a saltwater lake into a freshwater lake by sophisticated irrigation in the 17th century. Today it is not only a unique nature reserve, but also a cultivation area for rice, which is protected as „D.O. Arroz de Valencia“. In 2012, the „Escuela del Arroz de la Denominación de Origen Arroz de Valen- cia“ was founded to further increase the importance of this cultivation area and the awareness of the quality of rice among the population and gastronomy. Here we immerse ourselves in the special Japonica rice varieties Senia, Bomba and Albufera, in their cooking behavior, their flavors, develop new recipes and have been able to attract renowned chefs such as Evaristo Miralles, Quique Barella, Adela Crispino and many others as lecturers.

Unlike rice from the indica group, japonica rice can absorb more water and is therefore especially predestined for dishes in which the rice itself becomes the flavor carrier and should absorb a lot of seasoning. „Arroz la Bomba“, for example, is the perfect paella rice, because it also forgives long cooking times with- out becoming mushy. However, if you want to cook the rice for your paella with pinpoint accuracy, go for varieties like Senia or Bahía rice. They must be cooked precisely. Gourmets swear by them because these two varieties of rice can absorb a particularly large amount of flavor.

The new variety „Arroz Albufera“ combines the properties of Bomba and Senia rice. Its small, round grains are extremely absorbent without quickly becoming mushy and delight not only paella fans throughout Spain, because the typical paella flavor is developed even more intensively via „Arroz Albufera“.

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EDITION 3 - 2022

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