Carnaroli rice is perhaps the premier variety for making risotto, coarse-grained, pearl-like rice with the characteristic of darkening less than other rices.
The history of rice is as old as the history of the world. There are various traditions on this cereal not only concerning the food aspect, but also the religious, philosophical aspects.
Actually, the word rice, for example, comes from Eastern languages with different phonetic consequences.
It seems certain that about two dozen species have been distinguished from the original species of this herb. Today only two of them have any relevance for food purposes: Oryza sativa, native to Asia, and Oryza, native to Africa.
The first evidence of rice cultivation in Italy dates back to 1468 in Florence. Under the Medici, a gentleman named Leonardo Colto dei Colti applied for rice cultivation, with a tone that suggested wheat cultivation was already known. However, historians tend to favor “Milanese” origins. In the late 1400s rice cultivation spread to northern Italy, to Lombardy and Piedmont to be precise, in what is now the Vercellese region, where the first rice paddies sprang up.
They were cultivated by Ludovico il Moro and his brother Galeazzo Sforza, who wanted to take advantage of the frequent flooding of the Po River to grow the crop. In the Milanese lowlands they implemented a major program of marsh reclamation and initiated an agricultural policy for this cereal; from that time on it was no longer considered an exotic spice, but an important part of the national agrifood production project.
In the 16th century, rice, along with corn imported more recently from the Americas, entered the new category of foods used to alleviate hunger among peasants. It was because of this poor image of food that rice did not receive special attention in the 16th-century court cookbooks.
During the 17th century, rice cultivation suffered degradation, mainly due to sanitation controversies.
Doctors accused the grain of carrying malaria (the real culprits were mosquitoes infested the swamps), so farmers were forced to maintain their rice fields six miles from the town, and if they failed to comply with this rule they would be punished and imprisoned. Rice became popular again in the 18th century, gaining new growing areas for the first time in response to severe generalized food difficulties.
In the nineteenth century, the Piedmontese government and Count Cavour promoted research into the creation of a canal network in the Vercelli area, so much so that a canal network named after Count Cavour was opened in the last decades of the century.