Paella, well known all around the world, is a reference of Spanish cuisine.
Paella (Paella in Valencian dialect means pan) is a recipe based on rice. Its origins are from Comunidad Valenciana, a region of the East of Spain. Paella is very popular in all Spain and in another countries.
In this recipe the rice is cooked with other food in a wide and shallow pan, called “paellera” (paella pan).
It is a dish with a humble beginning. And its origin is the Albufera from Valence. (goo.gl/eKBxLT).
Paella was born in rural areas of Valence between XV and XVI Centuries. The farmers and the shepherds need a dish easy to prepare with the ingredients of the countryside.
In this area of Spain the rice was the main staple.
Arabs introduced rice in Spain in the Middle Age. But its culture was forbidden many times because of the damaging effects of wetlands in cities. In XVIII Century the culture of rice began to thrive far away from the cities.
At the beginning the ingredients of Paella were: chicken and duck, countryside rabbit, within reach fresh vegetables, snails, rice, saffron, olive oil and rosemary. All ingredients were combined with water and cooked in dribs and drabs in a fire of orange tree timber, which gives a special flavour.
There’s no historic documents about the origin of seafood paella, but is a choice for people that lives near the sea. It is made with vegetables, rice and cuttlefish, calamari, Norway lobsters, clams and mussels.
The first recipe about Paella, known as “Arroz a la valenciana” (Valencian rice) appears in a XVIII Century manuscript from Josep Orri: “Avisos y instruccions per los principant cuyner” (notices and instructions for beginner cookers).
At the end of XVIII Century Paella was a well known dish all around Spain and it was known in other countries.
In XIX Century in Belgium you were able to eat “Arroz a la valenciana” and in 1896 Eugène Lix, a French cameraman, filmed, at the first time, how to cook a Paella in Valence.
From beginning of 1800 Paella was part of the idiosyncrasy of region of Valence and it was a symbol of belonging to a family. Families use to meet around a table to eat this tasty dish.
Its popularity grew and grew, during all XX Century, even in the international level, and nowadays you can find Paella in many restaurants in Occident.
About the authentic recipe of Paella there is a big polemic. Paella is a popular dish so everyone cooks it with the ingredients that they have.
The first Paellas were elaborated with the ingredients of the Albufera: eel, green beans, garrofón (a kind of white beans), snails, rabbit, chicken, duck, and Albufera rat (more similar to a rabbit than to a rat, http://bdb.cma.gva.es/ficha.asp?id=5915).
The Ministry of Agriculture of Valence Govern and the Regulating Council of the Denomination of Origin of Valencia Rice have elaborated the rules about the commercialisation of Paella of Valence.
The 10 basic ingredients of traditional Paella should be: chicken. Rabbit, “bajoqueta” (green bean), “Garrofón” (big white bean), tomato, rice, olive oil, water, saffron and salt.
Furthermore, depending of the Region, are admitted also the following ingredients: garlic, artichoke, duck, paprika, snails or rosemary.
The rice used to cook Paella is “Bomba” rice. This is a kind of round medium grain rice with a low grip to the paella pan.
The Paella is cooked all around Spain so we can find different recipes. The most renowned are Valencian Paella, seafood Paella and mixed Paella (with meat and fish). But there are also another recipes with cauliflower, eggplant and other ingredients.
Traditionally Paella was cooked outside over a fire made of orange tree timber. In the past, people use to eat Paella with a wooden spoon directly from the paella pan.
Pics Sources: Biblioteca Valenciana Regional, Coleción de fotografías de Cullera de Francisco Roglé López: