Special Sub-Topic: Going Against the Grain
|Here is one of the most widely-eaten grains in the world - most Asian meals would be incomplete without its inclusion. Shown is the brown variety, which still retains the bran and the germ that are removed to produce the white variety. What grain is this?|
Rice. All rice has a husk on the outside which is indigestible, and is removed by milling the rice. The brown rice that is produced has more vitamins and minerals than the white rice that is produced when everything is removed except the innermost core, called the endosperm. There are many varieties of rice, which vary in grain size and in the texture of the cooked product. Wild rice is a term that usually refers to the seeds of grasses in the genus Zizania, not the genus Oryza which produces the 40,000 (or so) most commonly used rice types.
|This grain is the world's most widely grown grain by weight, although it only ranks second in terms of human consumption, as much of what is produced has alternate uses, both for feeding stock and in industry. I grew up calling it corn, but most of the world uses which of these names for this starchy grain first domesticated in the Americas?|
Maize. Mesoamericans first domesticated corn before there are any written records for the area. The familiar large ears with fleshy, roughly evenly-sized kernels of bright yellow is the product of lots of careful breeding - the original looked very different, in color, size and density of the kernels. The picture shows some different strains that are maintained to keep a large gene pool available for use in producing hybrid strains.
|This is one grain of rye, still in its husk. Which of these is NOT a way in which rye is commonly consumed?|
Steeped to make tea. Rye flour is the primary flour in pumpernickel bread and other types of rye bread and crispbreads (crackers). For many breads, the rye flour is mixed with wheat flour, as straight rye flour will produce a very solid bread. Rye beer is brewed by mixing the grains (either pure rye, or a rye/corn/wheat mixture) with water and heating the mixture (called a mash) so that the starch breaks down to sugar molecules, ready for fermentation. American rye whiskey is made from a mash containing at least 51% rye, which is distilled after fermentation.
|This is a simple variant on a dish that is eaten widely in Africa, especially in the northern parts. What is the name for this dish, made from semolina, a coarsely ground by-product of the milling of durum wheat?|
Couscous. The term couscous refers both to the dried semolina, and to the dish that is produced when it is cooked by soaking it in hot water. Plain couscous has little flavor, but it is a delicious base for adding meat stew, vegetables, or (for a sweeter dish) fruit. It can also be eaten with butter as a starchy side dish. Couscous is to North African cooking what rice is to Chinese cooking.
|Your grandparents probably were told to eat a hot cereal made from this grain because it would stick to their ribs, and keep them from getting hungry again for a long time. During the 1980s it was more common to extol its health benefits in terms of its ability to lower blood cholesterol levels. Which grain is shown here, ready to be turned into a bowl of porridge?|
Oats. Once the hull has been removed from oats, you have oat groats, which can be used directly to make a dish of porridge or oatmeal. More commonly, they are further processed (rolled to remove the bran) to make the cooking process quicker, although that does reduce their nutritional value. Rolled oats can also be used in baking - oatmeal cookies are a family favorite around my house, but there is always debate about whether or not to add raisins. Oats contain more soluble fibre than any other grain, including a family of molecules called beta-D-glucans which has been shown to help in lowering cholesterol levels. There are a number of other health benefits claimed as well, but medical debate is beyond the scope of this quiz.
|I always wondered what they were eating when I read books set in the southern part of the United States that referred to eating grits for breakfast. The picture shows a waffle and a bowl of grits, also called hominy grits. In what liquid is corn (maize) soaked to produce the hominy from which grits are made?|
Lye. When dried maize kernels are soaked in an alkaline solution, the chemical reactions have several important effects on the kernels, including making it last longer without sprouting, and converting some of the vitamins it contains into forms that are more readily absorbed when eaten. Native Americans were soaking their maize in solutions produced by mixing the ashes from a fire with water since at least 1000 BCE. Of course, the kernels are washed well to remove any alkaline water remaining on the outside before they are used! To prepare, just boil the ground hominy in an appropriate amount of water (or milk), stirring regularly to make sure they don't stick.
|The common name for Fagopyrum esculentum comes from the fact that its triangular seeds resemble those of the beech tree on a smaller scale. Which of these is often used to make noodles in Japan, China and Korea?|
Buckwheat. It is probable that domesticated buckwheat originated in Tibet or northern China. It grows at elevations where wheat does not survive, and can replace wheat in many uses, although, being gluten-free, there are some challenges presented that are not there when using wheat. Japanese soba noodles are made of buckwheat, and Korean guksu noodles used to be, before wheat became more popular. Buckwheat groats were used in eastern Europe to make a porridge-like dish, called kasha.
|This is a tabouleh salad, although it has significantly less parsley than I expect to see in a salad with that name. What is the name for the dried and parboiled wheat that is central to this dish?|
Bulgur. Bulgur (also spelled bulghur, bulgar and burghul) is made from wheat groats (the whole grain that includes everything except the hulls). If the groats are not parboiled, they are called cracked wheat. Bulgur is often used in Middle Eastern dishes in much the same way as rice and couscous are used in other parts of the world. My tabouleh recipe involves bulgur, tomato and parsley in equal amounts, with some diced onion and mint. The dressing is olive oil and lemon in equal amounts, with plenty of garlic.
|Although many people on developed countries would associate pearl millet with bird food, it is an important staple crop in some parts of the world. In what kind of climate is millet likely to be a staple food?|
Arid regions such as Western Africa near the Sahara Desert. Millet is not actually a single genus or species. Rather, the term is used to describe a number of grains which are used in similar fashion. In semi-arid regions of Africa, pearl millet is the primary source of nutrition for nearly 40 million people. Because millet can cope with sandy and dry soils, it is relied on in arid regions world-wide. Cultivation of millet species for crops in the African Sahel seems to have predated the cultivation of rice in Asia. In the United States, only proso millet is widely cultivated, and its seeds are now primarily used as birdseed. Despite the similarity of name, it is not closely related to pearl millet.
|The seeds of this plant are often malted as the first step in producing beer. What grain is shown here?|
Barley. While many grains can be put through the process of malting, it is usually barley that is malted to be used in brewing beer. The grains are soaked in water until they have started to germinate, then dried with hot air. This allows the development of enzymes that assist in breaking down the grain's starch into sugars, and its proteins into smaller compounds that can be used by the yeast used in fermentation. Malt is used in making beer and whisky, and is also used as a flavoring agent - a number of popular milk flavorings such as Ovaltine and Milo contain a combination of chocolate and malt.
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