Paella (traditional Valencian style)

Valencian Paella
Valencian Paella

Paella is a very simple dish that Valencian peasants would cook using cheap, fresh and widely available ingredients. Yet despite its innate simplicity, people repeatedly misunderstand and complicate it, causing us Valencians a great deal of stress in the process, because we know it could be so much better and yet people keep insisting on bastardising our national dish in every possible way! 😭

Also if you, like me, do not live in Valencia and hence do not have access to some of the “niche” local ingredients, I will also provide acceptable replacements that follow the original spirit. I live in the UK, so my suggestions will reflect what I can find in local markets and supermarkets. If it’s not in my list, it quite probably is not acceptable, so don’t add it 😜

Hope you enjoy it!
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Herbal teas, locally brewed drinks, and fusion cuisine

I was in Spain for a few days last week. On the way in I flew with hand baggage only. But the way back involved checking in my previously almost empty bag (I pack very lightly), as it had been loaded with a (figurative) ton of local-ish produce:

  • sobrasada! and four different cheeses from various parts in Spain
  • spelt based spaghetti with spirulina and other sea weeds (I love trying out new things)
  • Organic Spanish Marcona almonds
  • three bottles of Antoñita La Moderna, a locally brewed beer which I had just tried and liked, so my beerofiliac spouse can try it
  • a bottle of herbero – a drink made out of a sweet aniseed digestive base with added local herbs from the Serra de Mariola mountains
  • sweet chamomile, elder, mate (to brew)
  • And since this is the season of colds: locally sourced thyme (to brew) and eucalyptus (to inhale)

I couldn’t stop thinking this was quite a funny bag, and also hoping the bottles would not be smashed despite my best packing efforts. I normally don’t take liquids with me so I don’t have to check them in, because then I’m all worried they’re going to be smashed when loaded/unloaded. Stupid airport security procedures… 🙄

Since I came back we’ve been enjoying all manners of unusual culinary combinations; let’s call them fusion cuisine:

Chestnut mushrooms and spirulina and spelt spaghetti
Dinner: chestnut mushrooms and spirulina and spelt spaghetti
Eggs on sobrasada on toast, with spring onions
Breakfast: eggs on sobrasada on levaine toast, with spring onions

And some not-so-weird: thyme infusion, or thyme tree – perfect to soothe sore throats, or just to enjoy its fragrant smells:

Thyme infusion

We also tried the elder infusion; I had never had that one before. I fell like a baby afterwards, not sure if it’s related or not, but there you go!