The Camargue, a flat marshy region just south of Arles formed by the Rhône delta, is famous for its salt flats, horses, bulls, cowboys, flamingoes . . . and rice. Rice cultivation in the area goes back to the 14th century, aided by the relatively constant temperature, bright light, and the beneficial effect of the Mistral (the north wind). Today, rice is the major crop of Camargue. The Benoîts are fourth-generation rice-growers and offer an attractive range of rices, packaged in sachets printed with the work of an Arlesien artist.
This long-grain black rice is similar in aspect to wild rice from Canada, but it is in fact a different plant. Rich in nutrients including iron, black rice has a nutty taste, reminiscent of freshly baked bread. Uncooked, the rice is black; cooked, it turns deep purple thanks to its high anthocyanin content (the same pigment as in blueberries). It can be mixed with other rices if a milder taste is preferred. Black rice is also known as forbidden rice because in China, only the Emperor was allowed to eat it.
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