Saturday, 11 February 2012

Paella (monu)mental

The Spanish love to eat. They're very proud of their regional food, their tapas, seafood, jamon, cheese... but the most Spanish of all Spanish food must surely be paella.
Having said all that, I was surprised to learn that it was the Arab invaders over 600 years ago who introduced rice (arroz) to the Valencian region that now claims paella as its own. 

Enough history. Time to start cooking. 
The first thing you'll need to do is close the street. (I did say it was a paella monumental, didn't I?) Light a fire and a heat up a suitably sized paella pan. The one in the picture can cater for 6,000 hungry mouths, although today it's 'only' feeding 2,000. So, oil the pan and throw in some chicken to fry gently.
Next comes the veg (verduras) and the Spanish are particularly keen on green and butter beans, so throw the box in.
A pinch of saffron (azafran)...
Rice (arroz) of course.
Then stir...
Finally, you can enjoy paella hot or cold. Traditionally it was a lunchtime meal for the farmers out in the fields. These paellas monumentales are often held as fundraisers, especially for the Fallas builders in the Valencian region. Everyone is welcome, and a 3 or 4 euro ticket will get you a plate of paella, a drink and a place at the hottest table in town. 
It can take over an hour to cook, so usually there will be some 'regional entertainment' to keep you occupied while you build up an appetite.

¡Disfruta! (Enjoy!)

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