The Mexican Rice That's Literally Protected By The Government

We're no strangers to rice. From Indian biryani, and Chinese fried rice, to Middle Eastern pilaf, Italian risotto, Spanish paella, and jambalaya, a staple of the southern U.S., you've probably encountered rice in traditional dishes from around the world. But what exactly is rice? Scientifically known as Oryza, this starchy grain is highly available and accessible to most people due to its generally low cost, making it a staple of numerous cuisines around the globe. Rice is usually divided into two types — the short-grain japonica and the long-grain indica (via Harvard). 

However, not all rice is the same. Some of the most famous rice varieties include the fluffy and aromatic long-grained basmati and jasmine rice; the short-grained Calrose rice, mostly used for sushi; and the starchy Italian varieties of arborio and carnaroli rice, which are usually used to make creamy risottos (per Jessica Gavin). And that's not all. You might be surprised to find out that Mexico also has its rice variety, and it is so unique that it's even protected by the Mexican government.

Morelos rice is praised for its thickness and endurance during long cooking times

Mexicanist reports that there are experimental fields in Zacatepec where rice grains are modified and experimented with. The fields are located in the State of Morelos, and a unique Mexican rice variety called Morelos rice is even protected by the Mexican government. This rice is protected by the Denomination of Origin (D.O.), which means that only the rice grown and harvested in Morelos can be called Morelos rice. The protection reinforces the production system while also preventing piracy and copycats. 

For instance, did you know that there is a difference between Parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano? The famous Italian cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano is copied around the world and sold as Parmesan, and that's why it's protected by the Italian government. You can easily recognize these protected foods by looking for a protection stamp on the packaging (via Forbes). 

But what makes Morelos rice so unique that it's protected by the government? Well, it's because most of it is hand-harvested and whitened for cosmetic reasons. However, most people love it because it can be used to make both sweet and savory dishes without falling apart. It's thick enough to make incredible sauces and stews, and most cooks use it with tomatoes, onions, and garlic for the best results. So the next time you're buying rice, look for a package with the phrase "Arroz del Estado de Morelos" and try cooking with it. Who knows, you might even invent a new dish in the process.