Well, I got in late tonight after cooking for my client, this wonderful Valenciana Paella, that even I just had to try. I know what you’re thinking!? What do you mean you had to try? You see I am completely and thoroughly allergic to shell fish. However, I had to check this out for my self as a chef and cook, particularly for a client: I have to check for seasoning.
As Master Chef Gordan Ramsay always tells his chefs, “taste taste taste”! And taste I did and it was wonderful. The most delicious paella I have ever eaten and tried. Oh wait it’s my one and only paella tasting ever. Oh well, I won’t tell if you don’t! But if it weren’t, it would still be my favorite.
So just before I put together a recipe for a client, particularly with new clients and new recipes, a bit of recipe research goes into the process, as authenticity for me of a regional dish and request like this paella, is crucial. So while researching paella’s a while back, a noticeable regional difference was the first obvious clue that exist in the making of paella. Depending on where in Spain you actually hail from, various ingredients are either added or left out all together.
There are many forms of this traditional dish: Paella Velenciana and Paella Galician, sea food paella, and mixed paella etc. But for the Valencian’s, there is truly only one paella, and that is their version and all others are therefore considered, poor facsimiles of their respected and revered traditional recipe that predates all others to as early as the1800’s. The recipe takes its name from a combination of both the ingredients and the use of the large caldron or pan, referred to as a “paellera”, whose etymology or root comes from the Catalan word paella, meaning pan, who also has its roots from old French paella, also meaning pan and this too, has its origins from the Latin patella, also meaning pan. It gets very complicated!
Also predating its earliest Spanish incarnations, paella, can also be traced back to the early 15th century, having its roots well entrenched albeit arguably, but true, to the Moor’s, that once made their home along the coast of Spain’s Mediterranean coast line. The Moor’s introduced rice to Spain and would often cook a rice and fish dish seasoned with many spices, thus giving rise to paella in it’s earliest form. The Moorish version or incarnation was usually prepared for religious holiday and family gatherings. When the Catholic church expelled the Muslim’s from Spain, the tradition of cooking or combining rice with various fish and other proteins like snails, water voles, and later, chicken and rabbit was introduced and continued till the 1800’s. The men of that time period would cook rice and legumes such as long beans, and runner’s beans, and even artichokes along with snails in large open paella pan’s, over open flame (hard woods used were orange tree, pine branches and pine cones).
Been under the weather but will get to the recipe soon.
Recipe to follow!