“Valencia in Eastern Spain is the undisputed home of paella. It is one of the largest natural ports in the Mediterranean and has been one of the most important rice-producing areas in Spain since rice was introduced by the Moors over 1200 years ago. In fact, the Spanish word for rice is ‘arroz’, which is derived from Arabic, not Latin like most of Castilian Spanish.
Paella was originally farmers’ and farm labourers’ food, cooked by the workers over a wood fire for the lunchtime meal. It was made with rice, plus whatever was to hand around the rice fields and countryside: tomatoes, onions and snails, with a few beans added for flavour and texture. Rabbit or duck might also have been added, and for special occasions, chicken plus a touch of saffron for an extra special colour and flavour. Paella was also traditionally eaten straight from the pan in which it was cooked with each person using his own wooden spoon.
With Valencia being on the coast, it is no surprise that various types of seafood crept into the recipes over the generations. Now paella is the generic name of 200 or so distinctive rice dishes or ‘arroces’. A “true” Paella Valenciana has no seafood but a mixture of chicken, rabbit and snails with green and white beans.
It’s a little confusing but ’paella’ or to be more exact ‘la paella’ is the name for cooking pan itself and not the dish. The word comes from old Valencian, ‘patella’ meaning pan.
The most romantic of theory suggests that the dish was first prepared by a lover for his fiancée and that the word is a corruption of ‘para ella’ (meaning ‘for her’ in Spanish). It has also been suggested that the word ‘paella’, is derived from the Arabic word “Baqiyah”, which means ‘leftovers’.
In Spain paella is still unique. Not only do families congregate on mass to eat paella in restaurants, but it is often cooked at weekends at holiday homes in ‘bodegas’ or ‘txokos’ (large dining areas where families gather) or at beach or mountain picnic sites. There are many paella competitions all over Spain and very often a giant paella is the centrepiece for many fiestas. It’s easy to see why – paella can create a party, a ceremony and a debate – making it one of the most sociable and enjoyable of all culinary occasions.”
According to Thepaellacompany.co.uk
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