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Sardinian Rice

I googled "Sardinian rice" and it twice refers to me with "Sardonic rice". Hey Google! Don't fool me, I very well know that in Sardinia there is an excellent quality of rice. I tasted its wonderful organoleptic properties, so… let's get to work!”. And then, ashamed, it gives a broad answer.

Although rice cultivation has been practiced in Sardinia only for about seventy years (I am used to write almost exclusively of millenary presences in Sardinia ...) it’s currently the fifth rice producing region in Italy (Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna and, fifth, Sardinia). Although not huge in extension, about 3,500 hectares are cultivated mainly in the provinces of Oristano Cagliari, competing in quality with the best national rice. Much of the production is destined for seed rice, used in northern Italy by more extensive and renowned crops. About 95% of the areas worked with rice belong to the Oristano area, 271,000 quintals of rice per year in an area of ​​approximately 4,800 hectares and an employment of around 1,500 workers.

The history of rice in Sardinia begins with the Spaniards, who came to know it during the Arab domination. According to historians, rice was already consumed in Sardinia in the seventeenth century, but it was a privileged product for the banquets of the nobles, not for common people, who ate what they cultivated or raised.

Cultivation on the island dates back to the early 1930s with the drainage of marshy and brackish land in the Campidano of Oristano. In 1951 in Cesello Putzu, a smart young man, full of desire to do things and with very clear ideas, was advised to devote himself to the rice mill. He came from the activity of the pasta factories. He opened another pasta factory in Cagliari and helped to support the development of rice growing by favouring the harvest by machine threshing and shelling with his own threshing machines. He made it possible to complete the rice cycle with the construction of dryers for green paddy rice. At the beginning of the nineties the young Putzus of the third generation conquered the leadership of the Sardinian market.

But a thought of gratitude also goes to the group of farmers who came from Brescia in the 1950s and began rice cultivation, a quality that many today envy of Sardinian agriculture.

Rice cultivation begins in March, when the land is ploughed, leveling it at the parallel to the horizon. The new 'water chambers' will square up, and the embankments will become new canals and drains. The earth is kept alive compliantly with man’s work of and the one of his machines, preparing it to collect the seeds and rain water together with the contributing channels.

In April the sun does the work and as the plant grows it does not breathe from the roots, like other plants, but stores the air from its stem and grows submerged, protected by water from the cold.

In May, the slow evaporation process begins and the soil manifests itself under that water where the seeds lived until now and the warmer temperature makes the seeds hatching and rooting. The paddy field continues to be flooded by the canals.

In June the green stems appear shyly from the water surface and soon cover the entire paddy field into a bright green outlined by the square chambers.

In July the seedlings lengthen, the stem grows, the grain is formed and the grains form the rice ears which, in the sunlight, are moved by the wind like green sea waves.

In August, when the sun is hot, the rice ripens the future seed for other plants.

In late September and early October, the rice is ready for harvesting. It starts with the threshing and pile of the product. The first rice is called paddy rice, because it is covered with the straw of the wrappers. In the pile, the roughing machine is cleaned of the straw and passes from paddy to brown rice. Only when it is "shined", that is, cleaned, dehulled, bleached, it will become the white core of the grain of rice that we are used to cooking in our kitchen.

The six-month cycle of rice cultivation ends and passes the hand to its marketing, while the land will rest until next March.

 

... He rinsed the rice in a silvery little colander, drained it, poured it into a saucepan, covered it with one and a half time its volume in salted water, put a lid on the pan, and let it cook. ... the rice which had been placed in a tiny bowl then turned upside down to create a plump little dome, crowned with a mint leaf. (Muriel Barbery)

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Written by Daniela Toti

 

Tags: food

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