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How many words do you know for rice?

Japanese researchers are working on a glossary of terms to describe the appearance, flavour, aroma and taste of different kinds of cooked rice.

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ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

There are many specific terms to describe the taste of wine. Now researchers in Japan are working on a lexicon of phrases that will help standardise descriptions of rice – Asia’s dietary staple. The aim is to make it easier to promote and market varieties of rice and rice products, the Kyodo News agency reports.

Japan’s National Agriculture and Food Research Organisation (NARO) has partnered with a subsidiary of major trading house Itochu Corporation to come up with consistent definitions for the likes of “sticky rice,” “freshly cooked rice” and “convenience store rice balls.”

Researcher Fumiyo Hayakawa said the project would let his team “pick up on characteristics that have been overlooked until now because they could not be contextualised.”

[See more: Chion Chau Café: This local bing sutt was once big in Japan]

As of now, the team listed about 100 Japanese words in its rice dictionary. Each conveys insights into the appearance, flavour, smell and texture of a serving of rice. The glossary includes such terms as “a taste like nattō [fermented soybeans]” or “an aroma like boiled eggs,” explained Hayakawa.

Figuring out the perfect definition of each word has involved a dozen researchers conducting sensory evaluations of more than 110 types of rice, then sharing their impressions.

The project is scheduled for completion by the end of March next year, when it will be released on NARO’s website. “I want to make this a tool to convey the attractiveness of rice not only to evaluation experts but also to consumers,” Hayakawa said.

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