• FA-123750 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
Food, Beverages and Tobacco
1900 - 1909
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Tonking No 1 rice, Vietnam, first half of the 20th century

The Commodity Science Collection at the Technisches Museum Wien comprises more than fifty different varieties of rice, underscoring the significance and diversity of one of the world’s most important food staples.

At first glance that number might seem quite high, but given that there are more than 100,000 varieties of rice worldwide, it is in fact almost negligible. Rice is one of the world’s seven most important cereal crops, along with wheat, maize, millet, rye, oats and barley. It is the staple diet for more than half the world’s population; in fact, in some Asian countries, it accounts for up to 80 per cent of the main diet.

The rice plant was already being cultivated in Asia thousands of years BC. The Moors then introduced rice into Spain in the 10th century AD. It has been cultivated in the Po Valley in Italy since the 15th century; in the 17th century it reached North America, and in the 19th century, Australia. Today more than 95 per cent of the world yield is produced in Asia. Our Tonking Rice comes from the eponymous Vietnamese province, also known under the spellings Tonkin, Tongkin, Tonquin and Tongking (Bắc Kỳ in Vietnamese).

Around 80 per cent of the world’s rice harvest is grown in labour-intensive paddy field cultivation. Before rice reaches the dining table, it has to go through a whole series of production stages. Like other cereal crops it is first threshed (paddy rice), then freed of its husks (husked rice), milled (white rice), and sometimes even buffed (polished rice). Brown rice (i.e. unmilled rice) still contains the germ or embryo and is therefore richer in vitamins, protein and trace elements.

Whether as long grain or round grain rice, fragrant Basmati or jasmine rice, par-boiled or brown rice – rice is such a versatile staple that it has given rise to all kinds of regional dishes such as paella, risotto, nasi goreng and sushi. But that’s not all rice can do: other by-products include rice milk, rice spirit, rice wine and rice straw – not to mention edible rice paper made from rice flour.

Production date: first half of the 20th century

Inv.Nr. 52937
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