This broad category extends from whole
grains such as rice and barley to ground cornmeal and pastry flour. Grains
are of great importance to many cuisines. Wheat and corn are of primary
importance in Western countries, such as the United States and Canada.
Rice is fundamental to many Eastern cuisines. In fact, in many Eastern
countries, the word for rice is the same as that for food. Other cultures
rely upon grains such as oats, rye and buckwheat.
Whole grains are grains that have not been
milled. Whole grains tend to have a shorter life span than milled grains
and, therefore, should be purchased in amounts that can be used in a
relatively short period of time - usually within two to three weeks.
Milled grains that are broken into coarse
particles may be referred to as "cracked". If the milling process
continues, meals and cereals (cornmeal, farina. cream of rice) are formed.
Finally, the grain may be ground into fine powder, known as flour.
Various methods are used for milling;
crushing between metal rollers, grinding between stones, or cutting with
steel blades in an action similar to that of a food processor. Grains
ground between stones are called "stone-ground". They may be preferred in
some cases because they retain more of their nutritive value due to a
lower temperature during this milling process than in others.