Carolina Gold Rice (Meleana Cabales)

Rice is a versatile food that has roots of cultural significance in various countries. Although it seems fairly straightforward, there are countless variants of rice based on grain length, starch level, color, harvest season, methods of preparation – the list is endless. Eaten primarily to accompany a main dish, ways of serving rice are associated with different places. In Thailand, sticky rice is served in coconut milk with mango slices (a favorite dessert in my family). In Spain, arroz bomba is a low-starch rice served in paella. In South America, rice and beans is a staple combination providing important nutrients. Needless to say, it’s enjoyed by people across the world.

However, the origin of rice in Colonial America can be attributed to none other than South Carolina. The grain was introduced to the New World in 1685 by means of the Columbian Exchange. West African enslaved people arriving in Charleston provided the complex agricultural technology to cultivate rice on the islands and coastal lowlands of what later became South Carolina. Carolina Gold rice, as it was known, was officially named for the rich color of the ripe crop in Autumn. Less literally, its name also references the great wealth it brought to lowcountry planters. South Carolina led the country in rice production up until the Civil War, whereafter rice was introduced to other states that could accommodate heavy machinery on their soil. South Carolina no longer grows rice as it used to, but the golden grain perseveres in the memory of longtime lowcountry families. It is remembered for its nutty taste, rich texture, and earthy aroma. Today, Carolina Gold can be ordered from Carolina Plantation Rice. 

As a self-proclaimed rice connoisseur, I could buy a bag to provide an authentic review. As a broke college student, I don’t have $20 to spare. Rice cookers are also prohibited in the dorms, which explains why I will be carrying mine to class with me during my room inspection 🙂 Please enjoy this picture of me with uncooked jasmine rice colored to resemble Carolina Gold.


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