While the origins of rice cultivation are found mainly in Asia, today, this grain crop is a staple in most households around the world. On this page, you'll get to explore the similarities in countries previously colonized by Spain through a single ingredient: rice. Just as the Spanish came to a so-called "new world," these U.S. immigrants share their family recipes, along with their story.
Rice History Lesson
Rice was first domesticated in China near the Yangtze River around 10,000 years ago, according to Ricepedia.org . It was traded amongst the Arabs in the Middle East with the Indians. During the Age of Exploration, the Moors brought rice cultivation practices to Europe through the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) in the 10th Century. Those practices later expanded to the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean during the Spanish Colonization.
The Sierra Club does note that Native Americans had been harvesting wild rice before colonial times, but the conquistadors were the ones who implemented the cultivation of the crops. Wild rice is a completely different species from cultivated rice (Oryza sativa) and there are many varieties of both.
While rice is only grown and exported in certain countries, it's consumed in every part of the world ( except Antarctica ).
Like in most countries, rice serves as a main source of nutrients. And while it feeds billions of people every day, there are many ways to eat it. Passionate foodies from Spanish influenced countries share the recipes for rice dishes of their region.
If you hover your curser over the map below you can see what rice dish each highlighted country makes. If you're on a mobile device, click on one of the countries in yellow to visit that section.