Risotto Research Paper

1953 Words 8 Pages
As a child, risotto was my favorite dish that my mom, strictly following her father’s recipe, would make. Today, risotto has become an innately Italian dish. In most Italian restaurants, you will find at least one type of risotto on the menu. Strangely, despite it’s inherent Italian-ness, rice and risotto are relatively new introductions to Italian cuisine. Rice has a long history of domestication in Asia and was not brought to Italy for several thousand years after being domesticated (P. Huang et al. 2012, X. Huang et al. 2012). Despite its foreign origins, I argue that the way rice and risotto have developed in Italy has given them unique traits that make them traditional Italian foods. In this paper, I will go over the origins and domestication …show more content…
2011:8351). The process of domestication was not a quick event though; it is hypothesized that there was a long pre-domestication period (approximately one to two millennia) where rice was being cultivated by sedentary hunter-gatherers (Fuller et al. 2007; Fuller et al. 2010:18). One of the key indicators for the domestication of rice is the presence of the SH genetic trait, which controls the method of seed dispersal (Fuller et al. 2007:318). The SH trait (produced by the sh1, sh2, sh3, or sh4 gene) reduces the amount of seed shattering in rice plants by strengthening the spikelet base (Zhongwei et al. 2007:12). While heavy shattering is key for the natural dispersal and propagation of wild rice, it makes harvesting rice much more difficult (Subudhi et al. 2014:276). The SH trait facilitates harvesting and ensures high productivity which is why the SH trait was selected during domestication (Zhongwei et al. 2007:11). Along with this trait, domestication of rice often results in an increase in grain size and/or weight, and the reduction of awns and hairs, which help the shed spikelet grip the soil (Fuller et al. …show more content…
Unfortunately, the origins of risotto and how it came to be a staple Italian dish have not been well studied or documented. It is hard to say when risotto was first made, but it is safe to say that by the end of the 19th century risotto had become a popular dish amongst Northern Italians. Regardless of the type of risotto being cooked, whether its Risotto alla Milanese or Risotto al Nero di Sepia, what they all have in common is the type of rice used and the preparation method. I argue that both these traits make risotto a distinctively Italian dish. As mentioned earlier, the unique traits of certain Italian rice, such as Arborio, are essential to creating the texture and taste of risotto. Moreover, the preparation method, specifically the addition of broth, is quite distinct. Many other rice dish recipes that are similar in concept to risotto, such as paella and pilaf, instruct the cook to add all the liquid (i.e. water, broth, etc.) in at once. However, risotto differs in this way as any Italian cook, including my grandfather, would insist on the broth being heated first, and then added to the dish in increments, while constantly stirring the rice. This method of preparation enhances the creamy texture of the risotto, and requires the cook to constantly pay attention to the dish, whereas other rice dishes allow the cook to focus elsewhere. The particular way in which risotto is made contributes to how the dish is

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