The Rice Book
by Sri Owen
(www.franceslincoln.com, ISBN 0711222606, £9.99)
review by Ysanne Spevack
This is a book about the history of rice by an award-winning and well-respected food writer. It’s about one third history and two thirds recipes for rice from countries around the world, including Finland, Jamaica, Afghanistan and Japan.
There are lots of great stories about rice related myths and superstitions. There’s also lots of modern science here, including explanations of how rice is grown plus a detailed analysis of the nutritional make up of this grain.
If rice only ever features at your table as a boiled grain on the side, tuck in to the recipes in The Rice Book for inspiration. There’s a Beef and Rice Omelette from Sumatra, South Indian Rice Soup, Rice Flour Crisps with Mung Beans, and Japanese Rice Casserole. Most of the recipes feature rice as a central ingredient, often a local way of using last night’s leftover boiled rice. Some of the recipes call for a little additional rice flour instead, or some rice vermicelli.
In short, there’s plenty of food for thought here, particularly in the subject text at the beginning of the book. The politics of this grain are fascinating, with it’s long and important cultural history giving insights to many ancient and modern dynasties and regimes. And the recipes certainly spark new ideas for things to do with this staple food.