The Bottom Line: Things you should know about rice and rice pudding.
The Full Story:
- Rice is the oldest known food that modern people are still consuming today.
- Rice puddings are found in nearly every corner of the world – as you might expect, recipes can greatly vary – even within a single country. There’s a good reason for that – rice is the second highest worldwide production after maize (corn). Since maize is mostly grown for purposes other than human consumption, rice is considered to be the most important grain for our consumption.
- There are more than 40-thousand varieties of rice that grow on nearly every continent. Can you guess which continent it isn’t grown on? That’d be Antarctica. Oh – and for the record? While we enjoy the 40-thousand-plus varieties of the grain, only about 10% of those are marketed and sold.
- In Canada and the United States, most rice pudding recipes have originated from European immigrants.
- In Europe, rice pudding with goat’s milk was first used by the Romans for medicinal purposes.
- “Rice Pudding” is the title and subject of a poem by A. Milne. In the piece, the narrator professes puzzlement as to ‘what is the matter with Mary Jane?’ Apparently, she is “crying with all her might and main. And she won’t eat her dinner—rice pudding again.”
- According to Buddhist Sutras, Gautama Buddha’s final meal before his enlightenment was a large bowl of rice pudding – reportedly made for him by a girl named Sujata.
- A particular tradition that is often associated with eating rice pudding during the Christmas season is hiding a whole almond in the pudding. In Sweden and Finland, popular belief has it that the one who eats the almond will be married the following year.
- The Chinese word for rice is the same word used for food. In Thailand, you call your family to a meal by saying, “eat rice.” In Japan, the same word for cooked rice is for meal.
- And in case you’re wondering where the tradition of throwing rice at weddings came from, it’s because it symbolizes life and fertility. Similarly, over history, young girls in China have been told that they must eat all of the rice in their plate because otherwise each grain of rice represents each pockmark on the face of their future husband.