Paella – A bone of Spanish contention

The word paella is widely misinterpreted to mean a meal consisting of rice and fish, or rice and rabbit but the original meaning of Paella is actually just a name for the large pans food is cooked in, it wasn’t until later on the food gained the name paella because the pan became so synonymous with the dish.

Recently discussed on a local forum and having caused outrage among many who venomously defended the fact that ‘chorizo never belongs in paella’ locals all around began bubbling over with rage at the very mention of it. Given the name being the word for the pan I’m guessing you can cook what you like in it (within reason!) We feel some people may need to take a chill pill and read this humorous article for another take on the subject! (If you can manage a laugh that is!)

even Jamie Oliver seems to think it doesn’t include seafood

It’s basically pretty widely interpreted that paella originated in Valencia and consisted of rice and rabbit yet when it moved to the coast a seafood paella (despite being a bit of a newbie) started being credited as the original way to make the dish… despite the Moorish influences, the name possibly coming from French or Latin words and the random association with India and its biryani dishes – (there’s another debate for those of you that enjoy that sort of thing.) We know one thing; paella is enjoyed all around by many and despite the origin it has of course changed over the years as many things do. Quite frankly we don’t care as long as it’s tasty! There are many dishes we really don’t question too much and we enjoy them nonetheless, take our authentic-british-indian cuisine for example, rarely do we find people in uproar over the fact that we aren’t eating traditional Indian food. I am personally grateful for the creation of the Balti regardless of what country it was born in and if that makes me a heathen, I’ll lace that boot up and wear it.

rumor has it general Francisco Franco routinely went out in Madrid in search of a good paella

Evidently it was one of Franco’s favourite dishes hence it started being added to many a menu in Madrid and popping up all over Spain, despite its Valencian origin many non-Spaniards still credit it as being Spain’s national dish. Anyhow in its earlier times it was a meal said to be enjoyed by farmers and farm laborers – imagine being a farmer working around the lake Albufera in the bomba rice growing area with ducks on the lake, maybe an eel or two, of you’re lucky some rabbits and chicken, as you can imagine in those times a ‘paella’ would’ve consisted of whatever they could get their hands on.

Being in Almeria by the sea we most commonly have seafood paella, though meat is available in some restaurants it’s not as popular. Sometimes you can find a vegetable version though and a lot of restaurants will cook it to order.

Let’s stir up a frenzy, email us and tell us what controversial ingredients go in your paella! Mail to: yasmin@ultimatealmeria.com

Photo by Antonio Castellano

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