Valencian paella |  What are we talking about when we talk about paella

Valencian paella | What are we talking about when we talk about paella

An in-depth look at the preparation patterns of our kitchen’s most global and popular dish

Santi Hernandez

Today, talking about Valencian paella has become a big responsibility. It’s like a path full of mines, if you step where you shouldn’t, you can jump into the air. The thing is that this
food The very humble has always been surrounded by controversy. While some seek its origin, others seek to narrow down and define what Valencian paella is and isn’t, others like international competitions like Sueca, which recently celebrated its 61st edition, or emojis or World Paella Day. The fact is that all these aspects make it more and more popular and keep it always very updated, especially today through social networks.

Controversy aside, the fact is that Valencian paella is a gastronomically cultural dish with a distinct family and social character. Culturally and therefore has been written for centuries, rice, and more specifically Valencian paella, is part of all Valencia. A recipe that has survived over time thanks to the gastronomic richness of our community and traditions, thus preserving its essence over the years. It’s a cultural aspect that provides the basis and greatness of this recipe.

A recipe with many family bonds. On Saturday or Sunday, paella has been and continues to be an excuse to bring children, brothers, uncles and grandparents together. Many generations have grown up around a Valencian paella full of tradition, as its preparation is always a ritual in which a festive atmosphere is created. A recipe that can be made with wood or gas, but always takes time and must be respected. It takes patience, harmony and lots of love. Just like that, we’re going to have a great Valencian paella. It is usually always done by the same person. Grandma, dad, mom or uncle, but always the same person. They always think the same thing.

BOE gives 8 keys to enjoy an authentic Valencian paella

If it is salty, if it does not have a few minutes, if it is necessary to put out the fire, and therefore normally sterile, endless additives only add to the invigoration of the morning. However, there is always a loyal pincher, ask him whatever you want. Bring me a plate, take this bowl, cut the beans for me or grate the tomato. Then there are those who understand and appreciate the chef’s efforts and bring him a beer, a glass of wine or some ham and cheese while he prepares the paella.

However, this ritual changes quite a lot when we make paella with friends. Here comes the party we call ‘comboi’. Valencian paella acts as a catalyst causing always a party around it. Even those who have never seen paella here give their opinion and often even drink the water from the vases, but the cook should always act, at least until the rice is gone. Then it is left to rest for a few minutes and we can now make the traditional ‘arrancaora’ stew so typical in our community.

Valencian paella is often accompanied by a salad and some more so as not to take the slightest part from the rice. Valencian paella is served at the same table as guests. The people sitting around will always eat the same paella in front of them. The rest will be served a mid portion meal and if they get hungry they can always repeat or return for socarrat.

A Valencian paella should always have socarrat. Socarrat gives the dish perfection and says a lot about who gets it. Eating socarrat in a paella is not the same as burnt rice, so the fat ratio in the rice is very important. This will vary significantly depending on whether it contains some ingredients such as duck for example. From all this, I believe we owe a lot to the Valencian paella, as it is partly responsible for our character, family and social ties. Therefore, we must have a broad and clear vision based on the gastronomic tradition of our community’s towns and regions, without turning our backs on the richness they bring to this recipe. It is inevitable and would be a great mistake not to acknowledge the uniqueness and richness of each region, each town, or each region.

Paella should preserve the essence of the region in which it was cooked, which is the fruit of its roots. It is this nuance that enriches it and differentiates it from another region of our community. However, these roots and this cultural heritage are becoming homogeneous due to globalized consumption, where the seasonality of food is almost nonexistent and we can eat anything no matter where we live. This can cause roots to disappear within a few generations and depending on the region we do not clearly know what Valencian paella is and what ingredients make it up.

That’s why I think it’s good and necessary for Valencian paella to have a cover letter backed by studies and research, with its history, evolution and the most common ingredients normally found in all Valencian paellas. the community has such a long history at least not to lose the essence of this dish. For example, let’s say rabbit, chicken, flat green beans or carob beans, depending on the region in which it is cooked, it will be given that geographic nuance and the distinctive feature and cultural identity that makes it. so wonderful, so without stopping to be Valencian paella. Therefore, we should consider that ingredients such as peppers, balls, ribs, artichokes or snails are generally less used, but less often depending on the region. Thanks to all these variants, Valencian paella is the one that has gained international dimension and recognition. It is therefore considered an Intangible Asset of Cultural Interest.

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