Rice. There is evidence of rice being cultivated in the Yangtze Valley in China from 6500 BC. Rice is a grain which is eaten throughout most of the world. There are 8,000 known varieties growing in over 100 countries, with different types of rice being preferred in different parts of the world. For instance, in Indian cuisine the longer grained, dryish rices such as Basmati are preferred, while Chinese and South East Asian cuisines choose a perfumed, sticky rice such as jasmine rice. In Japan, Spain and Italy a medium grain rice is chosen which stays moist when cooked in such dishes as risotto and paella. Rice is a staple for more than half the people of the world.
In the west nearly all rice is "parboiled" (what the Americans call "converted"). This indicates that the unhusked grain has been soaked, steamed and dried before they are milled. This process results in thiamine, riboflavin and niacin migrating from the bran into the endosperm, so that milled rice has greater nutritional content. Rice has been treated in this way for millennia in India and Pakistan.
Rice can be boiled, steamed or "fried". It can be served plain or mixed with other ingredients, either hot or cold. Once rice has been cooked it should only be kept in the fridge for a day and should only ever be reheated once.
Rice falls into four main categories, dependent upon the length of the grain and cooking qualities. The shortest grain rice in Italy is called riso comune followed by semifino, then fino and finally superfino. Short-grained rice originated in Japan, while long-grained rice varieties originated in India. Fino and superfino are particularly good for making risotti as they release their starch and absorb cooking liquid when stirred during cooking without breaking down or becoming too soft. This is because the grains are high in amylopectin, the starch that dissolves on cooking. At the same time they are low in amylose, the firm, internal starch. The rice grains are said to absorb as much as five times their volume of liquid during cooking. Within the superfine category are found arborio, carnaroli, baldo, volano grita, corallo and Razza 77. Dishes which would be called paella in the region of Valencia would elsewhere be known as arroz.