THERE is an old saying that one can know a group of people by looking at what they eat. For Filipinos, where culture and food interweave, there is one central table staple that identifies us from other cultures: rice.
The Philippines is widely known as one of the biggest consumers of rice in Asia. It is almost ironic, therefore, to think that Filipinos may have a different perception toward the crop. According to Filomeno V. Aguilar of the Institute of Philippine Culture at the Ateneo de Manila University, “most Filipinos relate to rice as consumers rather than as producers.”
This can be attributed to the strong cultural ties of rice in our society. More than being a staple at the heart of our food culture, rice also symbolizes prosperity and good luck. Traditions where this is evident are the practice of throwing rice grains at newlywed couples, or provisioning rice to a newly built home before moving in as a way to appease spirits, to name a few.
There are many varieties readily available in the market. But then there is Dinorado. Dinorado is considered a well-loved produce of the Philippines, known for its fragrant smell and sticky consistency that makes it perfect for savory recipes like paella, congee and arrozcaldo; and even sweet ones like champorado. If one is looking for this kitchen staple, a highly recommended variety is Harvester’s Special Dinorado, which is naturally fragrant, as no artificial fragrance is applied to enhance its appeal.
Rice and its role on the Filipino diet
Did you know that rice has not always been a staple food for Filipinos? The grain used to be served only on festive occasions, due to its connections to spiritual rituals. But now, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics indicates that Filipinos spend more on rice than any other food, regardless of income bracket.
As a leading source of sustenance for many Filipinos, more and more Filipinos are becoming health- conscious and have started turning to rice varieties that will provide the nutrition needed for the family.
Enter the Black, Red and Brown rice of Jordan Farms and Harvester’s. These unpolished and naturally grown rice are low glycemic, rich in fiber, multivitamin Bs, essential oils and—specially for the Black variety—antioxidants. As part of a regular diet and healthy lifestyle, the consumption of these healthy grains helps weight management and promotes all-around good health.
Catering to an international palate
The Philippine food landscape has seen a major transformation in food choices and tastes. Recent years have seen countless Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Greek, Persian restaurants crop up all over the country. Even as our tastes have turned international, we still favour cuisines that pair well with our beloved rice.
Rice distributors like Sunnywood Superfoods Corp. have been at the forefront to cater to the ever-expanding appreciation of international cuisines. Harvester’s Thai Jasmine, Harvester’s Short Grain and Harvester’s Premium Gold are rice varieties that pair well with Asian viands. And Jordan Farms Basmati rice is surprisingly appreciated by a growing clientele of consumers. It’s a little pricey, but its super long, fluffy-textured rice makes the culinary experience worth it. Great for pairing with Mediterranean kebab and grilled dishes or just with your favorite ulam.
The popularity of these international varieties proves the richness of our palate, as well as our resourcefulness as Filipinos. Unsurprisingly, what makes dishes paired with these rice varieties even more special is how we add our special touch to them. How often have you come across an international restaurant offering a distinct Filipino twist on its menu? As the rest of us would say: “We can eat anything, as long as there is rice with it!”
Rice being so much a part of our daily nutrition and life, it makes sense that we need to be more conscious and discriminating in the choice of the rice we consume. Opting for good quality brands become a priority.