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  Corti Brothers Newsletter for Spring 2001    Page 1 

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To Our Customers,

This newsletter features a number of new items, some never seen before at Corti Brothers. Part of the fascination of the food business is the fact that there are always new things to discover. Several of these I have known about, but previously could not get. Others I have just discovered in my travels. Hopefully, you will be intrigued enough to try some!

Darrell Corti

 POSEIDONE, A New Italian "Superfino" Rice Variety 

Named for the mythological god of the sea, Poseidon, is a brand new, patented rice variety created in the rice fields of the Lomellina in Lombardy's province of Pavia. It is a rice variety that will probably supersede Arborio due to significant quality improvements both in cultivation and in cooking, the primary reasons why rice is continously improved. POSEIDONE is a "superfino" rice, or what is called in California a "bold grain" rice, in the medium grain category. It ranks with Carnaroli, another "superfino." Since POSEIDONE is a brand new variety, never before sold, this is its debut and you, our customers, are the first to have it. We have labeled it "Le Mondine" to remember the women who worked Italy's ricefields. The bag label tells the story.

Italian rice is classified according to a special system of grouping where it is named according to the grain's physical parameters, length, shape and aspect of the grain. At the time of its marketing by the breeder, a rice is classified into one of four groups. They are: Commune or Originario; Semifino; Fino; and Superfino. (Don't laugh: If oil can be extra virgin, virgin, or virgin lampante, why can't rice be common, semifine, fine, or superfine?)

The orignal rice grown in Italy from the 15th century to about 1850, the Nostrale, is now extinct, having been replaced by selections or crosses that were made in the late 1800's. Most of the rice now famous were crosses made in the mid 20th century. Arborio, (Vialone x Lady Wright) was created in 1946; Carnaroli, (Vialone x Lencino) in 1945; and Vialone Nano, (Nano x Vialone) in 1937.These three varieties are the ones most commonly seen on the market.

In the Italian classification, commune or originario is a variety like Balilla, a small sized, round grain. The varieties Sant'Andrea and Ribe, slightly larger, are in the fino group. Vialone Nano, larger still, is a semifino and POSEIDONE, Arborio, and Carnaroli are superfino. In Italy it is a legal requirement that rice be sold without mixing the groupings and with the varietal name. However, rice may be mixed within the grouping, i.e., a fino variety with fino, superfino with superfino.

Agriculturally, POSEIDONE is interesting for various reasons. My reason for introducing POSEIDONE is that it is new and will become important. Our customers should have the opportunity of enjoying it not only for its novelty, but also for its culinary distinctiveness. Culinarily, it has more amylose (starch) 23.8%, than Arborio (19.6%) and slightly less than Carnaroli (24.1%). The higher the amylose content, the higher the quality in rice since the high starch content means better absorption ability in cooking. Since POSEIDONE cooks in less time than either Carnaroli or Arborio, preparing a risotto with it will take about 12 minutes rather than 20.

The idea of perfect rice differs with the population eating it, especially taking into consideration the eating utensils: chopsticks, fingers, spoon or fork. Rice is a delicate product and should be stored much like wine: cool, in a dry, and well ventilated place, away from humidity and strong odors. Refrigerator storage is not suggested. Freezer storage should be done in sealed containers.

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