5th Grade - Social Studies

LESSON PROBLEM: Sociology: How is rice used in food from different cultures?


Rice, is cultivated on every continent except Antarctica. It is the staple ingredient for many prepared foods around the world. These delicacies include risotto, arroz con pollo, pilaf, paella, jambalaya, dolmas and fried rice.

A risotto is an Italian dish that is made by first cooking the rice in butter, and, then, simmering the rice in a meat stock. The risotto is often topped with a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese.

Arroz, is the Spanish word for rice. Spain's influence in Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean is evident in Arroz con pollo. The Spanish sausage chorizo is sauteed with chicken and then simmered with yellow saffron rice for a rich, flavorful dish.

Curried rice, an East Indian recipe, is flavored by a blend of spices called curry, which includes the ground root of the turmeric plant. Middle Eastern rice dishes are called pilafs. Pilafs often contain bits of chopped nuts, such as almonds, or pieces of dried fruits. Pilafs are highly seasoned and are often topped with bits of spiced meat.

Paella is a Spanish rice dish that is flavored with saffron, one of the most expensive spices in the world. Ingredients for one type of paella, Paella Valenciana, include pimiento, chicken, sausage, lobster, clams and shrimp. Other paella recipes may contain only one or two meat ingredients. This famous Spanish dish was a favorite of a Spanish queen. It was a dish made especially for her, "para ella" means "for her" in Spanish. That is why it is still called "paella".

Jambalaya is like an American version of paella. This recipe, created by the Creole people of Louisiana, is very spicy and hot. The Creoles are the descendants of French and Spanish settlers of the region. It is believed that the term, jambalaya, originated from the French word for ham, jambon.

Dolma is a rice and meat mixture that is wrapped in a grape leaf. Dolma is a staple in Greek and Turkish dining, and it is often served as a cold appetizer.

Sushi, a Japanese dish that comes in many varieties, is a combination of raw fish and rice which is wrapped in a piece of seaweed.

Fried rice is a popular Chinese dish. The rice is first boiled and then cooked with eggs, meat onions and soy sauce. Different types of rice are used in other countries giving the dish a different texture. The people of Southeast Asia use long grain rice to prepare fried rice. While, in North China, Korea and Japan they use medium and short grain rice.

Rice is eaten by almost all of the people of the world. It is used in many diverse, delicious foods to reflect the uniqueness of a culture.


Explain the similarities between dolmas and sushi.

Name two Mexican rice dishes.


Look for rice recipes that reflect your ethnic heritage. Create a cookbook of recipes you have found.



All About Mexican Cooking

Chinese Food

Recipe Source

Food Network


  • paella
  • risotto
  • stock
  • pilaf
  • saffron
  • Creole

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