This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Spot the frippet: rice.

The holidays are over at last, and I, full to the gills with currants, butter, and cream, am craving rice. Just plain rice, possibly accompanied by a few steamed vegetables.

It's a sort of grass, is rice, Oryza sativa. It likes damp places, and its seeds are yellow until you polish them (which seems an odd thing to do to seeds) after which they become white.

Indian rice, however, comes from...well, from America, actually. Zizania aquatica has a purplish-black seed, and is known in England as wild rice, though it's now cultivated and is only a very very distant relation of the usual stuff.

A marvellous plant, rice. It feeds nearly half the people of the world. You can even use the straw to make an edible paper for stopping macaroons welding themselves to the baking sheet.

If you are American then you might rice your potatoes; that is, mash them into a slightly lumpy mush.

RICE as an acronym stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. It's what you do when you need to treat a strained limb or joint.

Well, that's one to bear in mind: what with the extra poundage we're lugging around since Christmas, we're quite likely to need a cure for strained joints.

Spot the frippet: rice. Is there a kitchen in the world that doesn't contain any rice? If there is, try to find a wedding, where rice is traditionally thrown over the bride.

Well, that explains the veil, then.

The word rice arrived in English in the 1200s. It came to us through French, Italian and Latin from the Greek orūza, and before that it might have come from a Dravidian word from India.


  1. By coincidence I was at the Oxford Botanic Gardens today, and there growing in the waterlily tank were some pots of rice.

    I felt very clever recognising the Latin label Oryza sativa, too.

  2. YOu are indeed, extremely clever. I have seen rice growing in paddy fields (why Paddy fields?) in the Far East and it's amazing stuff. Also probably my favourite starch of all. The things you can do with it! However, a rice pudding is, to my mind, an unspeakable horror which marred lots of days in my childhood.