This section is from the book "Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease", by William Gilman Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Practical Dietetics with Special Reference to Diet in Disease.
Although less eaten in this country than wheat, corn, and rye, except in the Southern States, rice constitutes the staple food of a majority of the world's inhabitants. Asia produces most of the rice consumed, but a little is grown in Spain, Italy, and Portugal. According to Clark, " in Asia a large part of the population consume 275 pounds per head a year," and nearly two billion pounds are used per year in Europe. In the United States,. where rice was first introduced in 1694, it is chiefly grown in South Carolina. There are several hundred varieties of rice, the two principal classes being the dry or mountain rice, and the wet rice, which grows in flat marshland, periodically inundated. Both the Chinese and Japanese make a wine from rice, and a vinegar can also be obtained.
The native Oriental method of treating rice is to beat the kernels of grain out of their husks in wooden mortars, and for European markets they are glazed by shaking in a sheepskin-lined drum (Clark). They are also bleached, and may be broken after decortication and ground into a flour.
Rice contains more starch than any other cereal - from 75 to 85 per cent - and is an exceedingly digestible form of starch for invalids when properly cooked, so that the individual grains are swollen or softened. This object is best attained by the process of steaming. The digestibility of plain boiled rice is improved by eating it with a little fresh butter, which coats the kernels and prevents their agglutination into a pasty mass. If the rice tastes insipid it may be spiced or flavoured with raisins. Rice pudding, milk and rice, and rice with beefsteak juice constitute excellent foods for young, growing children, and for use in convalescence from typhoid fever, diarrhoeas, and many other diseases. It is also advantageous to eat rice with fruit, such as apples or prunes.
Rice should not be depended upon without some form of animal food, for it contains too little nitrogen to satisfy the needs of the system.
Bread cannot be made economically from rice, on account of the small amount of nitrogen which this cereal contains, and the consequent lack of stability in the shape of the loaf, and unless wheat be added in large proportions, such bread is indigestible and watery.