Rice Stories

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It was a honor to be a part of the latest issue "Rice" @peddlerjournal. Thank you so much for  sharing my rice stories and my grandma's stories. It deeply moves our hearts, especially the chapter "Grandma's wisdom" which is beautifully described and illustrated. My grandma was holding the journal and saying "It is wonderful to have a written record because my memories are not so good any more" She was proud what we have done together and I am so happy of who inspired me to pursue my small project. Please check Peddler Journal and get inspired all the beautiful stories.

Rice Straw and Soybeans

Meju  (fermented soybeans)  is the key ingredient in making soy sauce

Meju (fermented soybeans) is the key ingredient in making soy sauce

In Korean culture, we eat fermented soybean products every day, such as soy sauce, soybean paste (Doenjang),and red pepper paste (Gochujang).  An important part of making these fermented soybeans is the rice straw. My grandmother always says, “Save the rice straw, it is useful for something.”

Bricks of dried fermented soybeans are tied in rice straw and hung where there is good air circulation. The rice straw has Bacillus subtilis, a good bacteria, which promotes the fermentation process.  Over time the soybeans absorb the bacteria in the rice straw.  The bacteria is important because it creates a sticky substance which gives the soybeans their unique aroma and taste.

In Korean these fermented soybeans are called Meju.  Meju is the key ingredient in making soy sauce. 

A soybean used in Japanese cooking called Natto is also wrapped in rice straw. It becomes very sticky and pungent in its fermented form. Just like the Meju, Nattō needs the correct temperature, humidity and circulation to be its best.

In the Edo Period (1615-1868), there were " Nattō vendors" who walked around town selling their fermented soybeans during the fall and winter months when the bacterium grew readily. Today, Japanese consumers have access to Nattō year round. Nattō is a traditional food eaten at Japanese breakfast tables together with miso soup, fish, and rice.

The Rice Festival in Italy

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Fiera del riso (Rice Fair) is the second biggest festival in Europe after the October Fest. This is the 50th anniversary which has been growing the tremendous numbers of visitors each year. It brought a half million visitors during the festival 2015. Two indoors spaces featuring different local restaurateurs hold over 12,000 visitors who choose between many different risottos, rice deserts, rice pizzas and drinks. The outdoor area was full of vendors from all across Italy. Culinary competitions encourage farms, restaurants and public in daily programs. 
A new additional venue in this year is Rice exhibition "Oryza" which curated by Davide Mantovani. It was an incredible display educating people about rice in its cultivation, culture and history.  This is great a showcase to share rice knowledge which should be continued and treasured. Great job Davide and his friends!

Exhibition Curator Davide Mantovani

Exhibition Curator Davide Mantovani

Fun Fact:
Melotti Farm/restaurant usually serves 65,000 risotto bowls during the festival. Melotti
Risotteria restaurant won the competition making the traditional local risotto.