Rice as Medicine and Food


“Like the millets, Asian rice first evolved in eastern China but eventually became prized in cuisines far to the West. Rice is indispensable in Arabic and Turkic cuisines today, and it was a significant part of the diet, at least as far as back as the medieval period. Persian, Arabic, and Islamic cuisines cook rice in oil or steam it and serve it with a wide variety of vegetables, spices, and meats. Rice also featured in the diet in other ways: It was an important component of medieval Arabic desserts, rice flour was used to make breads, rice was fermented into beer and vinegar, and it was used medicinally. However, among most Central Asian cuisines today it’s starring role is in pilaf.” from Fruits from the Sands by Robert Spengler III.

“Long grain basmati and short grain rice . Anyone who has eaten rice with curry at an Indian restaurant and the sticky rice in sushi rolls knows that rice grains vary in  shape. Although there are many varieties of domesticated rice, they fall mainly into two well defined clades, or branches: O. sativa ssp. indica and O. sativa ssp. japonica- or Indian and Chinese rice. Indica Rice is generally long-grained: the claimed is exemplified by the well known basmati rice. Japonica is usually short-grained and is sometimes referred to as pearl rice. Many locally grown Asian varieties are intermediate in size between indica and japonica. Many japonica grains become sticky, or glutinous, with cooking, although there are glutinous and nonglutinous forms of both japonica and indica. Some varieties of both clades have traits that make them suitable for growing in wet paddies, other forms are adapted to grow on drained land.” from Fruits from the Sands by Robert Spengler III.


December 19 - Fruit From the Sands 11AM to 1 PM EDT 

With Dr. Robert Spengler III, author of Fruit from the Sands . Co-hosted by Zizinia de Les Flors’ Caspar Hall. The last Zoom event is free, as they all have been over the last 11 years.

Available from Independent Bookstores and other online sources.


Author: culturesgroup

Ken Fornataro has acquired extensive knowledge of the science and techniques that have been all but forgotten with the increasing industrialization of food. Still in his teens, he was named Executive Chef at the Hermitage restaurant in Boston.   From there he worked at prestigious and often private establishments around the world where he practiced his craft. He ran the kitchen and catering services for Troutbeck in upstate New York, using locally grown and sustainably sourced ingredients in the 1980s. At Bloomingdales flagship store in Manhattan he ran the Fresh Foods department kitchens that included a line of his own prepared, preserved and fermented foods, as well as daily preparations directed by Michel Guérard, Petrossian, and Marcella Hazen. He has worked with Julia Child, Madeleine Kamman, Aveline and Michio Kushi, Paula Wolfert, Leah Chase, Anthony Bourdain and many chefs from around the world that taught him traditional Japanese, French, Jewish, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Nordic, Russian, Indian, and whole food cooking, preservation and fermentation techniques.

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