The tasty paella.
When we talk about paella it not only means the exquisite gastronomic dish, it implies a richness beyond the palate.
The delightful pleasure of knowing it in the first instance, we owe it to the Valencians who designed a dish that without realizing it became a Spanish iconography.
Thanks to the interaction of daring navigators who brought rice to the continent from Asia and to the Roman irrigation systems, it was possible to sow and harvest this cereal.
A proper place for it was Valencia.
I will also give credit to the Arabs who brought (apart from cultivation techniques), saffron from distant lands.
The paella was born humble of peasant origin, without pretensions beyond those of solving the day to day.
But little by little it became a dish of kings and today it’s a gift for the humanity.
As a curious fact the paella was described with its current Valencian ingredients in the cookbook of Pope Pius V in the fifteenth century.
The origin of the word paella is uncertain.
Some say that it is of Latin origin, someone else mentions Arabic as the origin.
It is also said that it comes from the name of the frying pan that was used to cook it called “patela” (now known as paellera), the most romantic say that it was invented to flatter a lady and that is why the contraction of “pa’ella”(for her), anyway, I like all versions because I think that serves only to enrich it.
The versatility of combinations between the ingredients offered by the paella is enormous.
On top of that, each region in Spain has given it its unique and personal touch.
The only immutable condition when cooking paella is to always use saffron and of course rice as absolute base ingredients.
Of course it is important to mention that there are different types of rice (fine, bomba, Valencian, etc.), which does influence the final taste by its ability to absorb through starch, the flavors of the ingredients and the water used for cooking.
But without being so strict with the rice that is used, rice is still rice in the end, and with that premise, different types of paellas have emerged:
Valencian, peasant, seafood (that I cook and is my favorite), the mixed one, and many more and that it would be impossible to mention and at least for me to classify.
Barcelona gave the world the paella parellada or as the Catalans know it: arròs mandra, arròs gandula or arròs de cec, which is a recipe of a man named Juli Maria Parrellada.
To end this article, I will say that the word paella has the quality to unite people, to unite cultures, and to be a reference of the creativity of the human race as well as to delight us with its flavor.
So don´t hesitate to taste it in all its forms and varieties.
I am Pedro Fort and long live the rich paella.