Beginning of the rice harvestBarbara Czartoryska
The rice harvesting campaign started this week in the spanish rice paddies , Europe’s largest producing country with an annual output of around 800,000 tonnes. In terms of production, Spain is just behind Italy and ahead of Greece. It is a very small part of the worlds production but for the regions of Extremadura, Andalusia, Catalonia and Valencia, rice farming is part of both agricultural and gastronomic heritage.
Most of the rice milling industries are located in the Valencia region, although this region produces only a quarter of the Spanish rice. The manufacturers buy the rice in the other regions, transform and condition it before reselling it.
Water, heat, light and hard work are the key elements of this demanding crop whose price is twice that of wheat: mankind began cultivating rice in China 10,000 years ago and it arrived in Spain, in the VIII century.
There are about 2,000 varieties of rice grown and 50% of the world’s population depends on this cereal, which accounts for 20% of global energy needs and is the basis of Asian and African cuisine.
The Valencia region, thanks to its immense lake of Albufera became a perfect production area making Valencia the historical cradle of the paella.
Iconic dish if any, Paella has found its nobility, going from the status of “poor man’s dish” to becoming a world wide renowned dish, it even has its own global day on September 20th.