Southeast Asian Cuisine: Rice Obsession or Passion?
First and foremost, each and every continent has its staple food. North America has corn, Russia has potatoes, South Africa has wheat and Asia has rice. Of course, with the sophistication and expansion of global trade, these definitions are becoming somewhat less distinct in the rest of the world, but in Asia and Thailand? Rice is most undeniably the staple food crop. You can see it everywhere, from the marketplaces where great hessian bags of rice are sold, to the breath-taking vistas of emerald rice paddies laid out like a patchwork quilt of greenery.
So, why rice? Quite simply, the lush and tropical climate and waterlogged fecund soils of Southeast Asia are highly conducive to the growth of this food crop. Generations of knowledge, teaching and experimenting has resulted in the vast array of rice cooking techniques that can be enjoyed today! In the West, a bowl of rice is about as imaginative as a hard-boiled egg, but in the East… a bowl of rice can be steamed, sticky, gelatinous, brown, white, jasmine, vermicelli or pudding. Furthermore, rice is used in the creating of an incredibly host of products, including vinegar, soups, wine, liquor, pasta, bread, milk and just about everything else that can be rendered from flour!
So, make a point of exploring the many wonderful types of rice dishes and preparations and remember this: if the cuisine of Thailand can be likened to an art, then rice is undoubtedly the canvas!