The Spanish language is full of colorful proverbs to celebrate what happens in and around the kitchen. Proverbs often explain the how and why of the order in which foods must be eaten or how food brings people together. One of the great uniters in Spain is paella and today that we are celebrating the International Spanish Paella Day, what a better way to celebrate this day than learning curious facts about it and of course, turning out the perfect one?
There are as many stories to explain the origin of paella as there are versions of it. Linguists believe that the word paella comes from the name of the pan it is made in – the Latin term patella, a flat plate on which offerings were made to the Gods. We have the word in Castilian “paila” which denotes a utensil with the same characteristics, called “paele” in French and “paella” in ancient Valencian.
There is an old story of how the Moorish kings’ servants created rice dishes by mixing the left-overs from royal banquets in large pots to take home. It is said by some that that word paella originates from the Arab word “baqiyah” meaning left-overs.
Last but not least, my favorite explanation of the origin of the term. I read it a long time ago and I tell it every time I have the chance so, here it goes. Back to ancient times, when women were usually housewives, a woman was getting ready to enjoy the rest day, Sunday. Sunday, was the men’s turn to do the housework and cook. In those days, it was possible to find any ingredient going for a stroll around the vegetable garden: fresh vegetables, rice, snails… on special days, a rabbit or a duck could be added to the dish. Imagine the conversation between men from those days:
“Hey, What’s up? –Que estàs cuinant?– What are you cooking?
Hi, – ‘estic cuinant pa’ ella, pa’ la dona– I’m cooking for her, for my wife today it’s her turn to rest”
This sentence was pronounced day after day, year after year, century after century… from I’m cooking for her, pa’ la dona, pa’ella, to I’m cooking paella, the dish. Is it not a great story?
Wherever the word derives from, we love paella!
Regarding versions and preparation, I cannot fail to mention some tips and other curious facts. The rice used to prepare paella is rounded and short grain type. Ideal if it comes from Valencia around the Albufera Natural Reserve or Calasparra in Murcia. It is called “arroz Bomba” which literally means bomb rice. It is a pearly grain with the incredible property of absorbing even three times its own volume and consequently the flavor of the ingredients, all of which stays firm during cooking. It must be dry and separate when done and both tender and al dente at the same time. It should have a crunch at the bottom of the pan called socarrat. Scratching the pan base with a wooden spoon is a meal ritual.
The right pan, called a paella or paellera plays a fundamental part. Its shape helps to cook the rice in a thin layer. Everyone eats out from the same plate and the stainless pan is the perfect utensil to do this.
Ideally, paella should be cooked over an open wood fire, uncovered until the final resting period. Just before eating it, cover the paella with a wet dishcloth. So if you have the chance, do not hesitate and cook it outdoors. Wood from an orange tree would be perfect.
Everybody loves paella, but finding the right ingredients, especially when outside of Spain can be a big chore. With our paella kit you’ll have everything you need to turn out perfect,true and authentic flavored paella. For those wanting an easy-to-prepare, easily accessible paella, this is the kit for you. The individual pan size is perfect to enjoy in good company with a friend and includes all the ingredients for paella in 9 minutes flat. It includes a stainless steel pan for two, rice, seasonings and tin of seafood and cooking liquid.
1. Pour the entire content of the tin into a pan. Then, fill the empty tin with water and add it to the broth. Cook it over high heat until the broth boils.
2. Once the broth is boiling, add the seasoning sachet and stir.
3. Cook it over medium-high heat for approximately 9 minutes. Once the liquid has been evaporated, it will be ready. Leave to stand 2 minutes covered with a wet dishcloth and serve.
How can you know if you’ve cooked the perfect paella? It is said that paella is perfect when people eat all the rice and leave other bits on the plate. Give it a try and let us know!
Happy International Paella Day!