Posted by R. Berg on April 16, 2005
In Reply to: Rice bowl posted by Smokey Stover on April 15, 2005
: : : : : What does a "rice bowl" mean?
: : : : One meaning is the actual bowl from which rice is eaten. Another is an analogy with the N Americam 'wheat bowl', a large area where wheat grows well (why 'bowl', ask me not!) Thus, an area where rice is grown extensively and relatively easily is a 'rice bowl'. Is this what you want? Some context to the expression might elicit a more relevant answer to your question.
: Just a guess about bowl used for a geographic area devoted to a particular crop. Mamy of the best growing areas, even very large ones. are the remains of old valleys and still lie between mountain ranges. I'm not sure there are wheat bowls, rice bowls, and the like, especially as rice is often grown on terraced, sloping land. But there are basins as well as floodplains. The alluvial soil deposited by the MIssissippi over the years has accumulated, in some places, to a depth of 15 or 20 feet. This excellent topsoil is the source of most American wheat, corn and soybeans. It is also racing down the Mississippi River at an enormous rate because of poor farming practices.
: A better known bowl, so called, may be the Dust Bowl, an area in which the winds, combined with a poor water year and poor farming practices, blew away the topsoil which provided a livelihood for numerous farmers. It also provided John Steinbeck with a literary theme, California with a lot of new redneck settlers, and Congress with an incentive to fund an extensive conservation program (mostly undone in 1953, when a different party took control of Congress and the White House). SS
: : : Well, I know it's not referring to a football game. But I sort-of remembered a phrase using "rice bowl" in a figurative way, and a little googling turned up one instance of "who took a dump in your rice bowl?", meaning "dude, what is your problem?"
: : : Also, Operation Rice Bowl is the name of a Catholic charity here in the U.S. The idea is for a children to give up a snack each day and place an equivalent amount of money in a cardboard representation of a rice bowl. The money from each skipped snack would buy a bowl of rice for a hungry child somewhere.
: : I believe phrases such as Rice Bowl, Wheat Bowl, Corn Belt, Breadbasket are used to describe a geographic area of a country where that product (rice, wheat, etc)is most widely grown and harvested. Wheat Bowl and Breadbasket are oftentimes used interchangeably in the US for the area that produces the major supply of wheat. Don't know how these phrases started or why the reference to "Bowl" or "Belt".
"Rice bowl" is used metaphorically--or perhaps in metonymy or synecdoche--to mean livelihood.