Passionate About Paella

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Paella is one of those festive-looking dishes that is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palate. What exactly is Paella you may ask?

In a nutshell, it is a rice dish from Spain cooked in a round flat pan with any number of local ingredients. Hailing from Valencia, Spain, it was first prepared by the Valencians with whatever ingredients they had on hand – rabbit, snails and vegetables. It has come a long way since then – the popularity of paella has spread throughout Spain, using just about any kind of ingredient that goes well with rice! There are three widely known types of paella: Valencian, seafood and mixed.

Valencian paella consists of white rice, vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck), snails, beans and seasoning. Seafood paella replaces meat and snails with seafood but without the beans and vegetables. Mixed paella is a combination of meat, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans.

Besides the different varieties, it is also served in a number of ways, depending on the quality and its availability. You can enjoy it cooked a la minute, tapas, frozen and from the menu of the day. Here the paella is cooked earlier and restaurants serve portions from it during the day. In this case, there will often be a sign saying ‘Hay Paella’ (‘There is Paella’). If you can enjoy it while fresh, it might be good.
Those in the know will be well aware of the two unspoken golden rules for ordering paella in Spain.

Firstly, avoid chain restaurants when trying to get good paella. Their version is usually frozen and not created fresh.

Secondly, plan to eat with two or more people because this dish is large and is best served to large groups. Having more people in your party also ensures that the dish is cooked fresh rather than earlier in the day.

It may sound like a cliché but paella is a must-try dish while in Spain simply because it showcases authentic Spanish flavors and promises a real treat for the senses. For an authentic dining experience, do consider visiting Valencia, home of the original paella. Here are some of the best places in Valencia for your paella fix, according to About.com’s Spain Travel Guide:

Restaurante El Forcart
– c/Roteros 12. Next to the Torres de Serranos,
- Reservations on +34 96 391 12 13, or visit their website.

Restaurante La Pepica
- Av de Neptuno, 6 46011 Valencia, Spain,
- Reservations on +34 963 71 03 66 or visit their website.

Restaurante La Alegría de la Huerta
– Paseo Marítimo, modulo 6, Malvarossa,
- Reservations on +34 963 71 03 66 or visit their website.

La Marcelina
– Av/Neptuno 8, Las Arenas,
- Reservations on +34 96 371 20 25 or visit their website.

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Author: Juan Kattn-Ibarra

COMPLETE SPANISH gives you all the language, practice and skills you need to communicate comfortably and accurately in Spanish. Move confidently from beginner to intermediate level wit... Discover More