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The legend The true story (kindly sent
by Roberto Fontana)
Felice Luraschi's recipe Gualtiero Marchesi's recipe Rhymed recipe History of rice
Anatomy of rice
Ente Nazionale Risi
National Rice Authority
(the legend)

From "Legends and stories of Milan" by Laura Maragnani - Franco Fava
Libreria Milanese - La Martinella di Milano

ZAFFERANO and the yellow risotto.

It was September 1574. For almost 200 years, by this time, work had been going on to build the Cathedral (Duomo of Milan), at the back of which had grown up a veritable town of huts, arcades in which lodged workers in marble, joiners, sculptors, carpenters from every part of Europe.
In a kind of dairy farm of that multilingual Babel, lived a little community of Belgians: Valerio of Fianders, master glass-maker, commissioned to complete some glass windows with the episodes of the life of St. Helen, had in fact brought to Milan the best of his pupils.
One, in particular, stood out from the others for his extraordinary ability to mix colours, obtaining really amazing effects.
His secret? A point of saffron skillfully added to the mix when it was ready.
And it was for this habit that he had received the nickname of "Saffron".
Hardly anyone remembered his real name, and it has been lost in the mist of time.
Master Valerio, naturally, knew all about his most promising pupil's passion for saffron, but always pretended to know nothing, limiting himself to pulling his leg and constantly saying to him that if he went on like that he would end up putting saffron in the risotto.

And so it was that after so many years of teasing, the young man decided to play a sneaky trick on his master: Our Lady's day Valerio's daughter was to get married, and what better occasion to sprinkle a little yellow powder in the risotto for the wedding feast?
It didn't take much to bribe the cook.... and imagine the surprise of all the people at the meal when at table appeared that most strange pyramid of saffron-coloured risotto.

Someone took their courage in both hands and tasted it. And then another and then another.
In a blink of an eye, of that enormous mountain of yellow risotto, not a grain was left. Saffron's sneaky trick had gone badly wrong.
On the other hand,"Risotto alla milanese" had been born.
stemma della trattoria casa fontana banner pubblicitario
name of the restaurant trattoria casa fontana

The true story of "RISOTTO ALLA MILANESE"
Document sent to us by Roberto Fontana - Trattoria Casa Fontana

Tales, legends, they say that....
once for all, we will try to get back to the origins of the recipe, relying on historical documents.
the principal characteristic is the colour yellow, provided by the saffron.
Highly coloured dishes were a feature of Arab and European and Medieval cooking.
It was the age of disguised and fancy dishes aimed at surprising the guests; gold and its substitute, egg-yolk, were the symbol of nobility, reserved for a privileged elite.
In 1300 rice was being cultivated extensively in the Naples region. From here, thanks to close family and political tieswhich connected the Aragonese and first the Viscontis and later the Sforza families, its cultivation moved to Northern Italy, to become established, thanks to marshy nature of the land, in the Po Valley, and particularly in the Vercelli area.
A century later Scappi would speak of "Rice from Salerno or Milan", in the recipe for "Minestra di riso alla Damaschina" (Damasquine Soup with rice) as it to record the origin of this food, just as, for centuries sugar would specified as "from Cyprus" or "from Madeira".

The first cookery-books of the 14th century describe dishes in which rice plays a fundamental part. The "Biancomangiare" plays a fundamental part.
The "Biancomangiare" of the Anonymous Tuscan calls for rice or, alternatively, rice flour, cooked with milk, sugar, spices and saffron or egg-yolk for colouring.
The "Biancomangiare" from Catalonia called for almonds in addition to rice-flour, spices, sugar, rose-water, but did not specify saffron, which would seem more an Italian practice than an Arab or Spanish one.
With Bartolomeo Scappi in the middle of 16th century, one hears for the first time of "Rice victuals, Lombard style": rice boiled and layered with cheese, egg, sugar, cinnamon, cervellata and capon breasts.
The yellow colour is provided by the cervellata, a typical milanese sausage, coloured and flavoured with saffron.

Similarly the "Minestra di riso e farro (Broth with rice and emmer)" calls for rice cooked in broth, seasoned with yellow cervellata and, once cooked, beaten eggs, grated cheese, pepper, cinnamon and saffron can be incorporated.

It may be noted that the term "Risotto" is still completely unknown, and the present-day technique of cooking the rice slowly, adding the stock gradually, also unknown, because every recipe invariably begins with preparation fo the boiled rice.
There is no change in the numerous 18th century's Italian cookery-books. In the cookery book of Massialot (Paris 1691) translated into Italian in 1724,there is advice to cook the rice in broth, as a garnish for capon or chicken, flavoured with cinnamon and mutton broth or lemon.
One has to wait till the end of 1700 for "Risotto alla milanese" as it is known today, to take shape.
The first trace comes from the anonymous author of the "Oniatologia" (science of food), who titles one of his recipes "To make rice soup in the Milanese style", where the rice, boiled in salted water, to which is added a good piece fo butter when it boils, is seasoned with cinnamon, greated parmesan, and six egg-yolks to give it a good yellow colour. Rice seasoned with parmesan and cervellata is also mentioned by the Neapolitan Corrado in his "Cuoco Galante".
The second suggestion comes to us from Antonio Nebbia who in the "Cuoco Maceratese" takes the revolutionary step of frying the rice after leaving it to soak in cold water for 2 hours, (so there is no boiling) in a little butter whilst adding cabbage "couli".
More original and modern is the method recommended in "The art of tasty cooking" where the rice is "fried in two onces of butter and a pinch of chopped onion, before being ? with a cup of milk and seasoned with spices.
The definitive recipe, in its final version, dates to the beginning of the 19th century and by no accident is found in that "Modern cook" of the mysterious L.O.G., printed in Milan in1809, a text of the greatest interest for the history of milanese gastronomy but one for the most part unjustifiably ignored. His recipe: "Yellow Rice in the Frying-pan": cook the rice, after first sautee' it with butter, cervellata, marrow, adding gradually hot stock in which some saffron has been infused.
Finally the recipe of Felice Luraschi, the celebrated milanese cook who in 1829 published his "New Thrifty Milanese Cook".
here the former yellow rice becomes Yellow rice "alla milanese", complete with beef dripping and marrow, saffron and nutmeg, cooked in stock, seasoned with the cervellata traditional in Middle Ages and Parmesan.
Felice Luraschi's "Risotto alla milanese": chop an onion with a half-moon, add some beef dripping and marrow, a little butter, and fry it all; set it aside and add the desidered quantity of rice, a little saffron, a little nutmeg, and cook it in good stock, topping it up gradually; half-way through cooking add half a "cervellata", let it cook, add some grated cheese, and serve.
No mention is made yet of adding wine. At the beginning of the 1900's Artusi provides two recipes for Risotto alla Milanese, the first without wine, the second with white wine. Here is the explanation: in the first recipe he doesn't mention beef marrow or any other fat; in the second, which he describes as "more filling but more tasty" appear the marrow and white wine.
He had in fact understood that the fat made the dish stick more to the palate, so it needed a touch of acidity to cleanse the mouth and add a bite to the risotto.

In our time, Gualtiero Marchesi, a master of creative cooking, has refined the recipe, suggesting the following method:
fry the rice in a little butter, begin cooking it in stock, then add the saffron; meanwhile in another frying pan, sweat the onion in a very little butter and white wine, add really cold fresh butter to get a creme of good consistency.
When it is cooked, mix throughly the risotto with this butter.
It will give the dish a bite of acidity and aroma which will bring out the flavours and fragrance.
Recipe of risotto alla milanese expressed in rhyme, in milanese dialect, by Giuseppe Fontana
"Gina, Gina, stavòlta che el risòtt
voeui cural mi. Prepara bella netta
la padella, che sem in sett o vòtt.
El broeud te ghe l'ee bon? Si'? De manzetta?
Famel on poo saggià. Bon, bon, va la',
sent che odorin? El fa resuscità.

El ris l'e' de vialon rivaa su jer?
L'e' mondaa? Torna a dagh ona passada.
Sù, sù, mett in padella el tò butter
e on tochell de scigola ben tridada.
Mett a foeugh, fà tostà movend sul fond
col mestolin e tirel d'on bell biond.

Dent el ris. Ruga, bagnel cont el vin
bianch, magher (mezz biccer). Dent el zaffran.
Ruga. Fagh sugà el vin. Sent che odorin!
Sugaa? Gio' el broeud da man a man.
Boffa sòtt che'l dev buj a la piu' bella
da vedell a sparà in de la padella.

Bagnel del tutt e rangiel giust de saa.
Lassel coeus. Brava. Gratta gio' el granon.
Oi, oi sòtt, sòtta foeugh chel sè incantaa!
Gina, che risottin, che odor de bon'
Ten rigaa veh! Adasi e deppertutt.
Varda, l'e' quasi all'onda. On trii minut.

Giò che l'e' pront. L'e' moll? Fa nient, el ven.
Dent el grana abbondant e on bell tocchel
de butter peu mantecchel ben, ben, ben,
menand su' svelt ch'l ven bon e bell.
Quest chi si', l'e' on risott che var la spesa,
on risott pròpi faa a la milaanesa!

Còtt al punt, mantecaa a la perfezion,
bell, mostos, el te fà resuscità
anca un mòrt che creppaa d'indigestion.
Tirel giò e mett in tavola che in la'
con tant d'oeucc e sopiren duardand chi.
Sèrvel, che vegni subit anca mi"

titolo riso e risotti

mondine al lavoro Foto: "Mondine al lavoro",
website of the "Consorzio per la Tutela del Riso Vialone Nano Veronese"

Visit their site to know how it's gathered and processed still today with a water-mill dating to 1648
risotto alla trevisana
Risotto alla trevigiana
see recipe
risotto alla marinara
Risotto alla marinara
see recipe
minestra di riso e fagioli
Minestra di riso
see recipe
risotto vegetariano
Risotto vegetariano
see recipe
torta di riso
Torta di riso
see recipe

Illustrations and text kindly provided by the National Rice Authority.


In Sanscrito lo chiamavano "Vrihi", e, a dire il vero, risulta subito un'assonanza con la dizione attuale, assonanza che si perfeziona, se cosi' si puo' dire, con il termine adottato nelle lingue iraniche, e cioè "Brizi", per arrivare, nel bacino del Mediterraneo, al greco "Oriza" che i romani nazionalizzandolo come del resto avevano fatto per i nomi degli dei, hanno fissato nel latino "Oryza". E Oryza e' rimasto anche quando Linneo lo ha inserito nella sua classificazione.

Rice constitutes the staple food of over half the planet's population. There are very many varieties (hundreds, world-wide). Of these, about fifty are cultivated in Italy, which can justifiably be considered the cradle of rice.
Italian rice, in fact, is among the best both for the quality of the seed-strains chosen and for the advanced technology emplyed in the processing.
Thanks to these the raw rice (the product obtained after harvesting and threshing) can be treated to obtain the various types of rice ready for eating, while preserving intact its nutritional qualities.
90% of the national rice production comes from Lombrady and Piedmont.
In Lombardy the annual production of raw rice (called "risone") is about 5 hundred million kilos.
In the Po Valley in fact are found the environmental conditions favourable to its cultivation, which is actually under water, with high temperatures and humidity during the growing season. From the nutritional point of view, rice is comparable with other cereals and proves easily digestable since the grains of starch are very small and so easily attacked by the gastric juices.
Rice is also rich in mineral salts and vitamins of the group B complex, especially the less refined varieties (whole-grain rice) and the "parboiled" type.
The rice grains can be, according to the botanical variety, rounded or long; for commercial purposes they are classified as:
  • "common" (the shortest, with a small round grains, suitable for soups and puddings), with the varieties Balilla, Elio, Selenio;
  • "semifini" (for soups and risottos), with the varieties Argo, Cripto, Lido, Alpe, Padano, Vialone nano, Flipper, Savio
  • "fini" (for risottos and accompaniments), with the varieties
    • Medio - Europa, Riva
    • Lungo A - Ariete, Lago, Drago, Ribe, Loto, Koral, S.Andrea, Lampo
  • "superfini" (the longest, with large elongated grains, ideal for salads, "timbales" and risottos), with the varieties:
    • Lungo A - Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Roma, Volano, Elba
    • Lungo B - Thaibonnet.

Other rice marketed are:
  • Waxi rice, "destrinous" o "glutinous" opaque-grained, with the starch supplied for the most part by amilopectin and dextrin, which afetr cooking sticks together and in Italy is used in baking and in cooking as a binding agent for sauces.
  • Riso profumato (fragrant rice), from India, Thailand and Madagascar. It gives an aroma after steam-cooking, which becomes more intense thanks to a chemical process mainly in the fat components.
  • Foreign "parboiled" rices
    • Surinam, cultivated in South America where it was introduced in the eighteenth century, first to Guyana and later to Surinam.
      Semi-transparent and peerless grain.
    • Basmati rice, from Northern India and Pakistan.
      A tapering grain which gets longer with cooking.
      It retains its consistency and lends itself to steam cooking. It belongs to the category of fragrant rices.
    • Patna (American), grown in California. The grains, after cooking remain consistent and do not break up; one can distinguish between "white" and "parboiled" rice.
    • "Wild rice", is not a rice at all, but "zizania acquatica"
      It is a water plant which grows in marshes and at the edge of ponds, nick-named "Indians' rice" because its dark "cariossides", up to 1 cm. long, were gathered and used for food by the Chippewa Indians of Minnesota.
      Varieties grow in the Eastern U.S., in Congo, and in north-eastern Asia.
titolo riso
Chinese proverb:"Eat your rice, heaven will look after the rest"

uomo che lavora il riso THE ORIGINS OF RICE,

The Emperor Kangh Hi understood 1600 years before Christ that to satisfy the food requirements of a populous China they needed a quick-rowing variety of rice, which could be grown north of the Great Wall, where owing to the Continenatl climate the first Autumn frosts arrive early.
And so was born the varietyYu-mi, the Imperial rice, which became synonimous with quick-growing rice and is recorded in so many oriental legends.
Today the People's Republic of China produces about 1900 million x 100 Kg of rice.
Nevertheless it is only a third of the present annual world production which is about 5,000 million x 100 Kg.

ORIGINS IN JAVA immagine di spiga di riso

Fossil remains confirm that the peoples af Asia have been living on rice for 7000 years.
The rice-plant must have originated in the island of Java or in Cambodia. The Egyptians did not know of it, nor does the Bible refer to it.
On the other hand the Greeks and the Romans knew of its existence, but they considered it a spice. Pliny the Elder, wrote in his Natural History that it had fleshy leaves.
Theophrastus and Strabo were more precise. How rice travelled from the East to the West is a mystery. Perhaps Alexander the Great introduced it to Greece. It's probable that the Arabs introduced it to Italy. Other tractitions give the credit to the Venetians. As documented by the Household Expenses Book of the Dukes of Savoy, rice was already on sale in Turin in 1300. During the Middle Ages it was also cultivated in the Botanic Gardens of the Monastic Orders. The monks of Monte Cassino would have studied it thoroughly, and would have selected the first seed for cultivation, paving the way for its success in the West as a food of extraordinary nutritional qualities.

From: "Rice idea" dell'Ente Nazionale Risi

Illustrations and text kindly provided by the N.R.A.

Piazza Pio XI-1
Milano ITALY

Belle spighe di riso
Da: "Il riso nella ristorazione" - Ente Nazionale Risi

Alla fine degli anni Venti la risicoltura italiana attraverso' uno dei momenti piu' delicati della sua ultrasecolare vicenda.
L'epilogo che si profilava era drammatico: ridurre drasticamente la coltivazione fino ad annullarla, avendo come conseguenza la perdita di centinaia di migliaia di posti di lavoro ed un corpo mortale all'economia della Pianura Padana.
Ma le categorie interessate seppero reagire, ipotizzando un'organismo per quel tempo straordinariamente moderno, capace di cogliere in anticipo i mutamenti del mercato nazionale ed internazionale, dare gli indirizzi pertinenti a coloro che di riso vivevano, promuovere e sostenere i progressi della risicoltura nazionale.
Nel 1931 fu cosi' istituito l'Ente Nazionale Risi che nel suo primo articolo sancisce un compito ed una funzione essenziali ogni qual volta s'intenda intraprendere con successo un'iniziativa economica: il compito e la funzione della promozione e della propaganda perche' l'immagine di un'alimento sia sempre nitida agli occhi del consumatore e perche' esso possa radicarsi saldamente e stabilmente nella cultura popolare.
Nell'ultimo quarantennio, di grande sviluppo della risicoltura italiana grazie anche alla spettacolare evoluzione dei mezzi tecnologici posti a sua disposizione, il Governo ha puntualmente accordato all'Ente Nazionale Risi una fiducia che lusinga e che e' stata di sprone alle categorie direttamente interessate alla coltivazione, alla trasformazione e al commercio del riso.
Con il programma impegnativo affidatogli il Ministro dell'Agricoltura ha confermato l'apprezzamento verso il lavoro fin qui svolto.
Piazza Pio XI-1
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Homepage (frames)
Homepage (no frames) Antica Azienda Agricola Peltuinum
L'Antica Azienda Agricola Peltuinum produces the Saffron of L'Aquila in a traditional way, according what has been done for generations and for centuries.
You will find even the history of Saffron, of the Firm and some interesting recipes. Trattoria Casa Fontana
A Milano, questa famosa Trattoria dei 23 risotti. Ottimo trattamento e ambiente raffinato fanno da cornice a indimenticabili risotti.
Ecco un sito in cui potete trovare informazioni sul Riso Vialone Nano Veronese DOP e Carnaroli
Tante belle ricette da tutto il mondo con in comune il riso

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