Like most rice farmers, we do eat rice, but not every day. While its naturally high protein content is an obvious dietary benefit of Cahokia Rice, some researchers believe that protein content has the potential to affect how a rice tastes. One of the major questions we sought to answer from the beginning was, “how does Cahokia Rice taste to a frequent rice-eater?” To answer that question, we hosted dinner for twenty college students from the University of Missouri at Columbia in a local Szechuan restaurant.
Restaurant co-owner and Borneo native Sylvia Weng grew up eating rice cooked in a bamboo shoot. She explained to us that this process infuses the rice with a distinctive savory flavor. Unfortunately, Weng isn’t able to procure enough bamboo to prepare the restaurant’s rice in this style, but she still strives to offer authentic cuisine to her customers, 80% of whom are university students and professors of Chinese descent.
The cost of admission to the dinner was simply to fill out a survey. Among the questions was one asking how many times a week, on average, each participant consumed rice. Of the students surveyed, 90% said they ate rice at least once a day. We were in the presence of some serious rice consumers.
The rice served and consumed at Weng’s restaurant is exclusively white rice, and this is what we offered at our dinner. While rice can of course be eaten on its own, most of the time you will find it served as a side to compliment a meat or vegetable dish. Our rice was prepared alongside various Szechuan delicacies, such as a spicy braised pork intestine and frog legs with pickled pepper.
In our survey, we asked the students to evaluate our rice based on three things: appearance, texture, and taste. We understand that the appearance of a food is the beginning of a consumer’s experience while eating it, especially in the context of a meal out. Our results showed that 60% of the diners rated the appearance of the prepared white rice as "moderately good," with 20% rating it as “excellent."
Obtaining an optimal texture is also especially important when it comes to cooked rice and other grains. In our survey, 85% rated the texture as "average" or better, including another 20% rating it as "excellent."
So, that leaves us with our original question: how did a subset of serious rice-eaters rate the taste of Cahokia Rice? 80% said it was "average" or higher, with 15% rating it as "excellent." No one rated it as "terrible." After the dinner, we spoke with Sylvia Weng and her husband, who had also sampled our rice in their dishes. Weng confirmed that the taste and texture of our rice was equal in quality to the brand she usually fed her children; given that Cahokia had the added benefit of high protein content, it would now be her brand of choice.