This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
The Oryza sativa produces as a native cereal of India pur familiar grain, Ryze, or Rice, which is composed almost entirely of starch, being poor in proteid (nitrogen), and phosphoric acid. It is therefore of value as a demulcent to palliate irritative diarrhoea, and to allay intestinal distress. Chemically Rice consists of its abundant starch, with fat, fibrin, some phosphate of lime, cellulose, and water.
Paddy is rice from which the husk has not been removed before crushing.
Rice has been long held to exercise pectoral virtues, serving to check consumptive tendencies, and specially to prevent, as well as to arrest, spitting of blood from the lungs. The dry flour of this grain, if dusted on a bleeding wound, or sore, will effectually stop the flux. A mucilage of rice, made by boiling the well-washed grain for some time in a moderate quantity of water, and then straining, will contain starch, and phosphate of lime-in solution. Rice-gruel made spicy with Cinnamon, and given, not hot, but at about 95° Fahrt., is most useful in irritative bowel complaints. When Lord Clive was shut up in Arcot, and the fare was most scanty, the Sepoys told him they needed less food than the Europeans, and asked would he order that the English should have the rice grains, and the Sepoys would be content to have the water in which the grains were first cooked; by getting this they had the best of the bargain. But when required as food, the grain should be steamed, because in boiling it loses the little nitrogen which is possessed, and the greater part of the lime phosphate.
As an article of sustenance, Rice is not well suited for persons with whom fermentation in the stomach is habitual when provoked 'by starchy foods. Neither can it be properly substituted in place of succulent green vegetables, together with fish, or meat, for any length of time, else it will induce scurvy. Probably it is not a function of the stomach itself to aid in the digestion of such starch, or of sugar, and fat; but when reaching the intestines Rice is absorbed by them very completely, leaving but a small amount of residue; its solid constituents are passed from thence into the blood almost as thoroughly as the juices of meat. Two factors determine the digestibility of vegetable foods in the intestines, the first being their bulk, and the second the amount of cellulose which they contain. If the bulk be small, and the amount of cellulose scanty, as with white bread, rice, and macaroni, then the intestinal digestion is very complete. On the contrary, if the food is bulky, and full of cellulose, then intestinal digestion, and absorption, are much less thorough.
The cellulose is not only almost useless for purposes of nutrition, but it largely prevents the access of the digestive juices to the nourishing ingredients which it encloses. "The reign of vegetables," said Punch, July, 1901, "is at hand, but we need a crusade to bring it in. Let noble verse be set to noble music for that end. Let us begin by glorifying Rice! That Rice is superior to flesh meat is easily proved. Who would throw mutton chops at a newly-married couple? No, we all thus acknowledge that innocent Rice is superior to mutton chops.
Is Rice! How gentle, and how very free from vice Are those whose fodder is mainly Rice!
Succulent Rice! Really it doesn't want thinking of twice: The gambler would quickly abandon his dice, The criminal classes be quiet as mice, If carefully fed upon nothing but Rice.
Yes; Rice! Rice!
Beautiful Rice! All the wrong in the world would be right in a trice If everyone fed upon nothing but Rice".
There are persons to whom Rice, in whatever form, or in however small a quantity, seems to be almost poisonous; cases are on frequent record where this grain, taken carefully cooked, has nevertheless produced extreme distress; even, in one instance, when some soup (as it was afterwards discovered) had been thickened with ground rice; and in another when bottled beer drunk at lunch was the cause of offence, the event showing that a few grains of rice had been put beforehand into the bottle for exciting a second process of fermentation in the beer. "Foods made with rice" (quoth Dr. Tobias Venner, 1620), "all are somewhat of hard concoction, and of an astringent facultie; to the aged, and such as are molested with phlegme, and obstructions, they are very hurtfull." Boutins, 1779, in an account of the diseases common in the East Indies, has stated that where rice is eaten almost exclusively the vision becomes impaired. When it is boiled, Rice swells up, and absorbs nearly five times its weight of water, most of the mineral constituents being dissolved away. Two and a half ounces of Rice, cooked by boiling, (that is, about two-thirds of a soup plateful), require three and a half hours for their digestion.
For the daily needs of an active, robust man, about five pounds of cooked rice would have to be consumed; therefore, when this grain is eaten in moderation it should be combined with proteid food, such as milk, eggs, light meats, or the better sorts of fish. Rice grains, as commercially supplied, consist almost exclusively of starch, and can therefore only augment the animal heat, and increase fatness, without ministering at all to the muscular sustenance, and the strength of body. But the inner husk of the grain, which lies immediately beneath the outermost horny capsule, contains albuminoids and phosphates in useful abundance; so that a brown bread made with four-fifths of rice flour, and one-fifth rice meal, is quite nutritious, and recruiting to the body in general, as well as to the nervous energies, the coarse outermost husk being first got rid of.
When making a rice pudding, the rice should be first boiled rapidly in water, four ounces of rice to a quart of water, adding salt, if desired, when the rice begins to soften. The milk should not be put with the rice for cooking until twenty or thirty minutes before the pudding is served, else, if cooked longer than this, the cheesy parts of the milk will be hard to digest. An old Dutch recipe for preparing a Rice pudding runs thus: "Take five teaspoonfuls of pounded rice, one quart of new milk, six eggs, eight ounces of sugar, two ounces of butter, and one tea-spoonful of powdered cinnamon. Boil the rice and milk together until thick and soft; let it cool; then stir in the butter, whisk the eggs, white and yolk separately, and mix with the rice and milk. Bake for three quarters of an hour in a buttered mould, dusted with fine biscuit powder. Turn out when cold." Again, "Boil one cupful of rice in one quart and a half of new milk; stir in as soon as soft one tablespoonful of butter. When cold, whisk up three eggs, adding some cinnamon, or Tangerine orange peel.
Stir well together, and bake for twenty minutes in a buttered pie dish." Eggs are chemically adapted admirably to supplement foods exclusively rich in starch, but poor in fat, such as rice, and similar cereals; thus when used in rice puddings they make these a complete food. If taken raw mixed with skim milk, or with water, in fevers and other acute exhausting illnesses, eggs are quickly absorbed, and serve as highly nutritious aliment. But if it should unfortunately happen that their absorption becomes delayed within the body, then noxious and poisonous gases are generated by their putrescence. Usually the intestinal absorption of eggs is very complete, and they leave little, or no residue.
Sake, The National Beverage Of Japan, is a kind of strong beer, (containing about ten per cent of alcohol,) which is brewed from rice, by a peculiar method, quite different from the processes used in Europe. This mode of brewing is known to have been carried out there on a large scale for three hundred years. Singular success has attended the surgical treatment of the Japanese soldiers during their recent war with Russia. Surgeon-Major Seaman tells that up to the beginning of July over a thousand sick, and wounded had been received at two of the hospitals, and of those treated not a man died at either hospital. "To my mind," he adds, "the ration issued to the Japanese soldier has much to do with his immunity from suppurative conditions following serious injury. The freedom of the constitution of the Japanese soldier from inflammatory conditions is largely the result of his diet, - that of rice, fish, and a simple vegetable. The soldier's ration of rice is six ' go,' or about thirty-six ounces daily." Nevertheless, a formidable disease (Beri-Beri) has been at times the scourge of Japanese sailors when fed exclusively on rice. This malady is a form of scurvy, attended with dropsy, and overwhelming prostration of strength. Its origin has been traced to a microscopic spore infesting the rice.
Beri-Beri has been everywhere about Java rife among vegetarians (which term among the maritime peoples of the Eastern tropics means feeders on rice). The only effectual curative treatment has been of a preventive kind by feeding those persons exposed to attacks with fresh meat, green vegetables, and fruit. "Beri-Beri," a duplicate Cingalese name, signifies "extreme, deadly debility." Tynesiders at Newcastle, as regards the young women of that locality, have a favourite habit of eating raw rice freely (also uncooked oatmeal, and starch,) for producing a pale complexion, which is considered among the north country folk to be particularly beautiful; but this pallor is actually due to a depraved digestion. For Rice water, as a useful drink in diarrhoea, or dysentery: "Wash well an ounce of Carolina Rice with cold water, next macerate it for three hours in a quart of water kept at a tepid heat; and afterwards boil slowly for an hour, then strain. It may be flavoured with cloves, or other spice, and lemon peel. A very favourite dish with Cape children is "Yellow Rice," according to a Malay recipe. Take one pint of rice, two quarts of water, two tablespoonfuls of butter, a quarter of a pound of light yellow sugar, two teaspoonfuls of powdered turmeric, and some sultana raisins, or currants.
Wash the rice well, and set it on the fire with the water, and all the ingredients at once; then let it boil for half an hour. Carolina rice is generally considered by far the best for puddings, but Patna rice, from Asia, is preferable in curries. The former, however, seldom leaves the United States now-a-days, therefore selected Patna is substituted. Ardent spirit fermented from Rice is known as arrack.