Lost Rice, Found Alive

image005_custom-74fcf2c593047698233b11f237300862d88e143a-s1400-c85.jpeg

An upland rice strain. Courtesy of Brian Ward

Thanks to the salt and National Public Radio (USA) for this story about the strain of a grain means so much to billions of people around the world:

A grain of rice, like a grain of sand, sifts through your hands with a mysterious and lovely sameness. Mostly white or tan, hundreds or thousands of grains pour smoothly out of buckets, out of burlap, into bowls, with a sound like small waterfalls. Rice seems so simple, really. And yet, because it plays a central role in world cuisines, these modest grains can carry the weight of history. Sometimes that history is deeply surprising.

Trinidadian ethnobotanist Francis Morean is living that surprise. The 56-year-old grew up in Trinidad’s Palo Seco hamlet, helping his mother and grandmother plant “hill rice” in the garden once the late-spring rainy season had begun. They would punch checkerboard-style holes in the ground with stakes fashioned from tree branches, and drop the rice seeds in. After harvesting, they would dry the rice plants on large cloths sewn together and laid in the sun. The dried rice plants were shredded by dancing and stomping on them barefoot, the hulls removed in homemade mortars and pestles. The rice stored well for years and was, says Morean, a cherished dish at the dinner table.

“In Sierra Leone and many West African nations, rice was an essential part of every meal,” Morean says. “So being able to produce one’s rice was a major plus for persons of the African diaspora.”…

Read the whole story here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s