A Nibble big enough to choke on

Yeah, yeah, it’s been quiet here for the best part of a month. Work, you know. When you notice lack of action here, though, that doesn’t mean that I’m being completely idle. Not always, anyway. Check on Twitter and Facebook, if you dare, and you’ll see new stuff on a fairly regular basis, because that’s easier to do than a fully-fledged blog post. Anyway, what I’ll do here is a mega-Nibble hoovering up snippets from the past few weeks that I posted on social media but not here.

Lost rice found, again

First there was Carolina Gold. Now there is “upland red bearded” or “Moruga Hill” rice.

Mr. Dennis had heard about hill rice…through the culinary organization Slow Food USA and the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, the group that brought back Carolina Gold in the early 2000s. He’d also heard stories about it from elderly cooks in his community. Like everyone else, he thought the hill rice of the African diaspora was lost forever.

But then, on a rainy morning in the Trinidad hills in December 2016, he walked past coconut trees and towering okra plants to the edge of a field with ripe stalks of rice, each grain covered in a reddish husk and sprouting spiky tufts.

“Here I am looking at this rice and I said: ‘Wow. Wait a minute. This is that rice that’s missing,’” he said.

It is hard to overstate how shocked the people who study rice were to learn that the long-lost American hill rice was alive and growing in the Caribbean. Horticulturists at the Smithsonian Institution want to grow it, rice geneticists at New York University are testing it and the United States Department of Agriculture is reviewing it. If all goes well, it may become a commercial crop in America, and a menu staple as diners develop a deeper appreciation for African-American food.

And no, they couldn’t have found it in genebanks. This is what Genesys knows from the region. Trinidad is shown by the yellow marker, rice accessions in red. No rice accessions in Genesys from anywhere near Trinidad, alas.

Someone should really have a systematic look at all those red dots, though.

Nibbles: Gros Michel, Poultry photos, Pigeonpea prebreeding, Murnong, Wheat breeding, Hass, Indian forest foods, Popcorn domestication, Mustard history, Historical botanists, Barges & Bread, Samoan distilling, Kenyan brewing

  • The quest for Big Mike. No, not Stormy Daniels’ latest. It’s a banana.
  • Ok, I’m going to resist the temptation of making the obvious follow-up joke in connection with this gallery of beautiful chickens.
  • Who needs chickens when you have pigeons. Ah, no, these are pigeonpeas.
  • Australia’s answer to the potato. Unclear what the question was.
  • Australia’s answer to frost-sensitive wheat: look in genebanks for resistant stuff.
  • The mother of all avocados. Kind of a Hass-been, though.
  • Avocado shmavocado, says India.
  • Are you not entertained? Have some popcorn!
  • And mustard for that hotdog. You know, like Mesolithic people did.
  • History of plant collecting double feature: Bradby Blake & Frank N. Meyer.
  • Listen to Jeremy on how grain made its way up the Thames.
  • A lot of grain also makes its way to Ft Collins. See what I did there?
  • Taro whiskey: I’ll drink to that.
  • Kenyan coffee to finish things off? Maybe not for long.

Stirring up a rabbit controversy

In 600 AD…

…Pope Gregory the Great … decreed that laurices — newborn or fetal rabbits — didn’t count as meat. Christians could therefore eat them during Lent. They became a popular delicacy, and hungry monks started breeding them. Their work transformed the wild, skittish European rabbit into a tame domestic animal that tolerates humans.

Or maybe not, says Ed Yong.

In fact, “…when it comes to domestication, …when is the wrong question.” Shoot.