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