Recipes

Rice

Italy is the leading producer of rice in Europe, with the majority of it being grown in the abundant Po river valley. Lombardy is home to the best rice growing area, the Lomellina, while Piedmont and Veneto also have bountiful rice harvests. Rice thrives so well in the Po valley that first courses of risotto are more common than pasta and are a great way to serve whatever is in season, from seafood to wild mushrooms (such as Porcini) to meat and game. Anyone that has had a perfectly prepared risotto or any other "riso" dish knows just how serious the people of these areas take their rice. That is not to say, however, that other regions of Italy do not eat rice, as there are wonderful recipes for using the many varieties grown throughout Italy. From soups to desserts, Italian rice is well utilized. It is difficult to say just when rice was introduced to Italy, but it was most likely during the late Middle Ages, perhaps the 14th century. It got there from trade with the east, probably brought in by Venetian or Genoese merchants, but the earliest documentation of rice cultivation dates to 1475, possibly decades after the crop had been established. It is not known if Italian farmers adopted the new grain immediately, since the large amounts of water needed to flood rice fields could cause conditions perfect for malaria. The early crops must have been impressive enough for farmers to ignore their fears of disease, since rice quickly became a staple food in the Po valley.

Recipes

Rice

Italy is the leading producer of rice in Europe, with the majority of it being grown in the abundant Po river valley. Lombardy is home to the best rice growing area, the Lomellina, while Piedmont and Veneto also have bountiful rice harvests. Rice thrives so well in the Po valley that first courses of risotto are more common than pasta and are a great way to serve whatever is in season, from seafood to wild mushrooms (such as Porcini) to meat and game. Anyone that has had a perfectly prepared risotto or any other "riso" dish knows just how serious the people of these areas take their rice. That is not to say, however, that other regions of Italy do not eat rice, as there are wonderful recipes for using the many varieties grown throughout Italy. From soups to desserts, Italian rice is well utilized. It is difficult to say just when rice was introduced to Italy, but it was most likely during the late Middle Ages, perhaps the 14th century. It got there from trade with the east, probably brought in by Venetian or Genoese merchants, but the earliest documentation of rice cultivation dates to 1475, possibly decades after the crop had been established. It is not known if Italian farmers adopted the new grain immediately, since the large amounts of water needed to flood rice fields could cause conditions perfect for malaria. The early crops must have been impressive enough for farmers to ignore their fears of disease, since rice quickly became a staple food in the Po valley.
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