The paella moment 2

PAELLA IS BACK

L

ast week we made an aperitif talking about what is “actually” the paella READ HERE FIRST ARTICLE, a small big party of amateur cooks. And no, after your comments on “You have not published the photo of a paella”, I am not going to publish the photo of the paella to the detail so that you come with “it is noticed that the bajoca is frozen” or “fatal decoras with the pepper”… ai ai ai… how much work I have… hahah. Let’s go back to the stoves, TODAY we continue with the process: What happened to the diners while the chefs were putting the cucharón in the paellón? Also, in the process of writing and publishing this series of articles, I have aroused the interest of my friends, especially Teresa and Mercè. They published a recipe book with the traditional recipe par excellence and I couldn’t resist myself to publish it. I’m not an expert, they are, I’m not an expert, they are, and get ready to freak out. The traditional paella recipe does not have Nutella but… THE SOCIAL NET WILL BE ON FIRE because you wait for the ingredient that you can use (or several of them, including animal world, in the paella you eat the whole orchard, literally…) I have put it at the end so that you have to read all my precious article… buahahahaha… Today is long but delicious, like the paella cooking itself. Come on, let’s continue exploring!

Here bellow, more “Paella Moment”.
SPOONS UP!

Meanwhile…

D

iners will have started with an aperitif. It is possible that at the same time they are cutting and preparing some ingredients that will be included later in the paella.. No one is going to tell you the truth about this moment, but here I have it exclusively for you: The aperitif is the food itself, this is the truth they will never recognize. The aperitif is hours of waiting, starving, drinking and eating intermittently but constantly. No matter how much you eat appetizers, you’re still hungry. When the paella arrives, your stomach is full of chips, snacks, olives, sausage, Spanish ham, cheese, bread with something and carbonated drinks, in some cases even with alcohol. All this does not mean that you will not give up your paella ration followed by dessert and coffee.

All for paella and one paella for all

M

y favorite image of paella is when it’s served. Let’s remember that this is our moment of community par excellence. The paella, once made, we like to present it and to raise the ego to the leader. Between two people is held, one person holding each handle, and approaches the diners. Applause. In my visit to my aunt, let’s remember that it was a paella contest. We had to take her through the air about 7 blocks (Blocks from a neighborhood in Spain, not New York… but still…) to the jury and back.

Back with the diners, presented the paella – not always but normally – is deposited on a side of the table previously prepared with a tablemat (If it is in the mountains or in a rural house, the tablemat can be bricks or tiles). It is not usual to be strict in protocols with respect to the seats that occupy the diners, but… there are VIP zones. It is asked: “Who wants to eat directly from the paella?” As you read it. Valencians eat directly from the paellón, but not everyone fits. Everybody doesn’t like this practice either. The table is then divided between [email protected] and ordinary people with a plate.

A

t that moment the performance follows: serving the dishes. It’s like an improvised dance with plates in hand. A person serves the paella with that giant spoon that looks like a metallic tadpole (Or a spermatozoon. Mental image: I had never compared the spoon to a spermatozoon and the paella to an egg … another representation of abundance and fertility? … XD) Let’s go back, one person serves the paella with that giant spoon and other people around take the plates up and down to the table. Each dish follows the taste in quantity and ingredients of each diner (More meat is served to those who prefer meat, more vegetables to those who prefer vegetables, with socarrat, without socarrat… etc) and then come the questions and misunderstandings: “Is this for the uncle?” “Who didn’t want artichoke?” “That’s not for Gerard, it’s for Mari… It doesn’t matter, leave it to him”. The volume of voice is usually high.

 

The socarrat, which I mentioned earlier, is the lower part of the rice that is cooked closer to the surface of the paellón, which has consequently been burned. In other words: Socarrat = 5 mm of burnt food. A good paella leader is one who knows how to make socarrat without burning the rest of the rice. Without socarrat, you will never be a good leader and your paella will never be famous. If you go too far with socarrat, your paella will be famous… in a bad way. We repeat: Socarrat = 5 mm of burned food.

Culinary trolls

A
woman from the USA posted a picture of her recipe on her Facebook account and called it paella. It was a curious paella, cooked with very diverse ingredients and without the order that we put. Other users began to bullying her, with humorous comments but completely disrespectful. I received this story as a meme, I must admit I laughed. Then I looked for this woman on Facebook and discovered that she deleted her post. NOTHING SEEMS SO SAD TO ME. This woman suffered a collective attack of hate and hate won. Dear trolls:

O1
You can be funny without disrespecting or inciting others to be evil.

O2
Valencians are recognized for their mastery and invention, but the recipes do not belong exclusively to anyone or to any region. An equivalent example would be the Italians and their pizzas.

O3
The paella can be adapted and personalized and continue being called paella, as it happens to tortillas, crêpes, burritos … etc.

In my opinion, cultural exchange and evolution are always better. The first paella in history, who knows what it was made of… People here usually call what they do outside the traditional paella “rice with things” and they get very angry if I bring up the subject. I think it’s smarter to observe and, if someone improves something, whatever it is, copy the idea and improve what’s yours… Just an idea…
Anyway, whatever people do, a public lynching is not justified.

Let’s continue the party

L

et’s remember that my aunt’s paella was part of a neighbourhood competition. Haven’t you asked yourself this last week about the final result? Who won? Do you want to laugh? The winner was the previous president of the festivities and has been winning this paella contest for the last 3 or 4 years  (I think, sorry if not). A very Valencian ending to a very Valencian story. And here comes the most awaited, “THE RECIPE” of the paella, the good one.
Guiri, are you ready?

THE PAELLA RECIPE

for 6 people

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 rabbit
  • 1/2 chicken
  • tomato
  • green beans
  • butter beans (Phaseolus lunatus)
  • 3 glasses of rice
  • optionals: snails, red bell pepper, artichokes, snow peas (Pisum sativum var. saccharatum)
  • saffron (or food coloring)
  • salt
  • oil
  • sweet paprika
  • water

T

he paella is cooked in a very large pan with two handles. In order to simplify, we call it pan, but it is usually known as paelló.

METHOD

Put some oil in the pan and, when it is hot, fry the meat over a low heat, making sure it is well browned. You must fry slowly, carefully, as this is the key to success. When the meat is ready, put the green beans in the pan in order to fry them too. There are people who, with the green beans, like to fry a red pepper, usually cut into strips. Then add the tomato. When you see it is ready, put some sweet paprika, remove the ingredients with the spoon and recover them with water. You may put some snails too, if you like them (they are strange for some cultures but very common in Spain and France). In case of using frozen snails, we recommend to bring them to the boil previously and throw away the boiled water).

The water in the pan should boil about half an hour, until the meat is cooked. Rectify the water if necessary, and add salt, saffron and butter beans. In autumn, time for artichokes, you may seize the moment to add them. You can also recover a rather lost tradition: put, at least on St. Peter’s Day, a few small pears of the variety known as “pears of St. John”, which are the smallest and the first ones to ripen, between the second half of June and the beginning of July. You must put them whole and unpeeled.

Put the rice in the pan and spread it delicately with a palette so that it is distributed evenly. If you have decided to use snow beans, put them now. Little by little, you will see that the rice drinks the water, and water will come to the boil again. When there is no liquid left, put the fire out. Nevertheless many people would rather leave some seconds the fire on, because they like the rice “socarrat” (slightly burnt at he bottom).

And so far the paella: More than a dish, a common place. Common despite the fact that we are so different from each other and there are so many different paellas that, including the paella discussion, will continue to unite us in the future around it as it has done until now. With all this, which is not an small thing, let us toast: May the party continue, may it never stop and may every day be Sunday.
Happy Sunday dear croissant.
Enjoy, breathe…

paella in the pictures by

Carmen Ortega Caro

 

text, pictures & illustration

Vincent Moustache

@vincentmoustache

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