This will be an ongoing article as I continue to scour Spain for the best paella. Let me tell you…”it ain’t easy.” These dishes are not created equally and a good one is tough to find.
Considered by foreigners to be the “dish” of Spain, Paella actually originated in Valencia. Most Spaniards will attest to the Valencian origin and the rather recent spread of paella throughout Spain.
There are generally three accepted forms:
- Traditional Valenciana (rabbit, chicken, snails, beans, artichokes)
- Marisco (fish, shrimp, clams, mussels)
- Vegetariana (white beans, artichokes, eggplant, and peppers)
Last year, Jamie Oliver, created an international incident when he published his recipe for paella. Jamie innocently threw in some chorizo sausage. The fallout was not pretty. The Spaniards were pissed and quick to point out the error of his methods.
It’s For Sharing.
Donde Comen Dos, Comen Tres…..
Where two people eat, so does three.
Nothing could be truer. This dish is always served for two, Yet easily can feed three. In a proper establishment, paella is made to order and will take up to 30 minutes. This is a good thing as you know the dish is fresh.
Don’t try on Las Ramblas.
This is a big fat, “NO“. One should never really eat anything on Las Ramblas, and definitely not paella. Unless you are looking for banana yellow rice with frozen bits of assorted protein…..stick to beer/olives and people watching.
Avoid Tourist Traps.
You should not eat any “traditional'” dish in a tourist spot. In fact, when the restaurant menu has pictures of food. Run.
The Best Places…. I’ve Found……(so far).
Barraca, Barcelona – located in Barceloneta (the beach area). Really nice paella, but a bit pricey.
La Riua, Valencia – located in the City Centre. A popular authentic Valencian spot. Known for the paella. Was damn good. The prices are reasonable.
Arrocería Gala, Madrid – located in the literary District. I stumbled upon this place by accident and was pleasantly surprised by the Paella Valenciana. Good prices, great atmosphere and popular with the locals. Fabulous indoor/outdoor seating.
Paella is made in a paellera. See pic. Note: I’ve never used mine.
Why? Cause it’s hard to make a good one.. I will eventually christen my paellera but only when confident that I can do it justice.
In the meantime, I’m tasting my way around Spain. Learning about the ingredients. Like the bomba rice – short-grain rice that absorbs more water. The spices – saffron, paprika, sea salt, and of course the best wines to pair with.
What to Drink…
Verdejo and Cava
What About You?
Do you have something to add? Where is your favorite spot in Spain?
Let me know. Would love your feedback.
Thanks for reading!
Much LOVE, Kate. x
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In the meantime, I prefer to have someone make paella FOR me!!
Me too! And Timmy is on his way.
Good article and observations. Just one thing though: the big pan the paella is made in is also called “una paella”. Confusing, I know. A paellero is a small building or construction where the fire is lit and the paella cooked. Our Valencia home in the Valencia countryside has one. It backs into the neighbour’s paellero. We have adjacent chimneys to let out the smoke from the cooking fire, usually burning orange wood as we are surrounded by thousands of trees.
Hey! Interesting. The terms must be regional. Here in Andalusia – paellera is what they call the pan. I am not familiar with the term paellero as a building. Again, perhaps regional as well?! Really not sure. Will ask one of my local friends. Thanks for stopping by!!! x