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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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rice Oryza sativa, a grain that is a staple food for roughly half of humanity.

Rice has several advantages over most other staple foods. It gives higher and more reliable yields than wheat and barley. The moisture content of the grain is low when it is harvested, and is further reduced by drying. It therefore keeps well in storage; in cool, dark, and reasonably dry conditions its quality declines only a little after three years and it should be quite eatable after as much as ten years. It is easy to transport, because it is not heavy with moisture and does not bruise. Most important of all, rice has a good flavour and texture when cooked, absorbing and setting off to advantage the flavour of any sauce or other cooking liquid.