Rice (arroz) was introduced into Spain by the Moors in the eighth century and was brought to Mexico by the Spanishconquistadores. Because many of the conquistadores were from southern Spain, it was an essential ingredient in their diets. In present day Mexico, rice is mainly cultivated in the states of Veracruz, Morelos, and Sinaloa.

Rice is a popular carbohydrate in the Mexican diet. It is consumed on a daily basis and can be compared to the use of the potato in American cooking. It is referred to as a ‰ÛÏdry soup‰Ûº when it is served by itself and may be accompanied by fried plantains or other garnishes. It also is used as an ingredient in liquid soups or as an accompaniment to the main dish. There are several ways to prepare rice. All cooking styles require the rice to be soaked in warm water for half an hour to remove any excess starch and allow the rice to cook more evenly. It then is drained, allowed to dry, and fried in oil until lightly colored. Water, chicken stock, or purÌ©ed tomatoes are added, depending upon the type of rice prepared. White rice may have a few drops of lime juice added to it along with the stock to give it a whiter color. Arroz a la mexicana is a red rice, prepared with purÌ©ed red tomatoes and chopped vegetables, such as carrots and peas, added at the end of cooking. Green rice is made with fresh cilantro, parsley, and roasted poblano-type peppers that have been purÌ©ed and added with the liquid to the cooking rice. Strips of poblano chile peppers may be added to provide an interesting texture. Black rice is made with the broth from black beans and is known as frijoles de olla. Rice is also used to prepare the typically Spanish dish paella (seafood cooked with rice).

White rice is used in making rice pudding, arroz con leche, which is a favorite Mexican dessert. It is flavored with stick cinnamon and may have a tablespoon of brandy added on special occasions. The refreshing drink called horchata is made by soaking and then grinding raw rice, cinnamon, and a few almonds mixed with water and a bit of sugar, which is then strained and served over ice.
Janet Long Solís and Luis Alberto Vargas

Further Reading

Pilcher, Jeffrey. °Que Vivan los Tamales! Food and the Making of Mexican Identity. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998.

MLA Citation

Solís, Janet Long and Luis Alberto Vargas. “Rice.” The American Mosaic: The Latino American Experience. ABC-CLIO,2011. Web. 28 Mar. 2011.