Fried rice, wild rice, risotto, and Rice Krispies®️; Rice has been a versatile staple food for most people in the world, and takes the form of main dishes, desserts and even alcohol. But for the people of Thailand, they say that “rice is life” and it is eaten with most meals. Rice runs deep through all of Thai culture, including their music, art and language. In fact, the verb “to eat” in Thai is “kin kao,” which literally translates to “eat rice.” Even a common greeting in Thailand is “kin kao laew reu young,” which means, “have you consumed rice yet?”
Rice is even sacred to the Thai people; that they have a goddess mother of rice, Mae Posop. Throughout all stages of the growing process, the Thai people give “blessings” to the rice and worship Mae Posop. They compare their growing season to Mae Posop’s pregnancy, and as their rice sprouts in the field, they nurse it as lovingly as a newborn to honor the goddess and bring luck. The rice rituals they perform have become closely tied with their religion, community life and especially their economy.
Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of rice, with over 3,500 varieties grown there. The cultivation of rice from a wild plant has been estimated to have happened around 12,000 years ago in Southern China and areas of Southeast Asia, namely in countries like Thailand, China, Laos and Vietnam. Soon rice traveled to India and Sri Lanka, then to the Mediterranean and to the rest of Europe, eventually reaching the New World. Asian nations still account for 92% of rice production, though many of its varieties are capable of growing in a huge variety of climates across the world.