Rice is a central part of the Burmese culture. It is the primary food of every family. When the Burmese pray “give us this day our daily bread” it would allude to rice. I have talked with my Burmese friends over the years and find that they have preferences in rice and utilize a more sophisticated vocabulary when talking about rice than the average American. It is similar in fact to the Eskimo’s more detailed appreciation for varieties of snow. When First Wesleyan did the rice drives we suggested folks buy Jasmine rice because it is closer in taste to the rice available in Burma.
My friend Peng Len Thakbal said the best tasting rice is grown in small plots high in the rugged mountains of the Chin country. This is called a dry rice and is a much finer grain, necessitating much more pounding work to separate it from the chaff. I am sure other individuals would delineate their own preferences regarding rice. The range of rice among the Asians includes sticky rice (that grows in various colors) often eaten for breakfast and the longer grains of rice with which we are more familiar.
From the hills and mountains of Burma to expulsion to refugee camps in Thailand or illegal status in Malaysia, rice has still been the daily provision for families in transition. As you read this blog, try doing a search on the word “rice” and you will see how often it figures into the stories of our Burmese.
News Stories about Burma and Rice.
I just came across this website which does a great job outlining the distinctives of Burma but tends to be blind to the human suffering and active struggle in this police state. They think there is no more war and civil unrest due to persecution in the country. However there is a great picture of a girl working in a rice field on the site.
For more pictures by the artist who did the one pictured above click here.