Updated: Sep 22, 2021
I wont start doing a blog on every "world something day", but how could I not write something about the (reportedly) fourth most important dish on the planet, that comes from our region!!
Paella; (sounds like pie-eh-ah)
A traditional Valencian dish which is still thoroughly enjoyed by Valencian's and the rest of the world! Where you have it here in Valencia, will have an impact on your experience of it. Generally speaking, like everywhere, the restaurants in the center are not your friend if your wanting maximum flavor and minimal cost.
Apparently, though my Valenciano is a little rusty (a language of its own within the Valencian community) Paella apparently gets its name from the pan it is cooked in, a "Paellera" - a wide, flat and shallow pan which you are meant to eat directly from,, which comes sized for two like this one..... or I've also seen what looks like could feed 20!
Its origins are traced back to the mid-19th century, in the rural area around the Albufera lagoon, just south of Valencia City which can easily be reached from our guesthouse by bus, car, or, if you're a little loco like us and like to work up an appetite, it's a lovely 50minute cycle which can be combined with a morning or afternoon at the beautiful sandy beach.
El Saler is a small village within the Albufera region that grows the paella rice, and hosts our families favourite, family owned and run restaurant, Ca Pepe, that serves up wonderful paellas for a more "locals" price. A little further on from here, you can then go on a fishermans boat for 4 EUR trip around the paddy fields taking in the flora and fauna, traditional thatched cottages and learn how the fisherman and rice growers work the fields. Here, its also one of our favorite places in Valencia to catch an epic sunset.
But how to choose just one dish with the multiple options? Leon enjoys the black squid ink while I enjoy that here they do a real vegetarian version (some places will say its vegetarian but still use meat or fish stock). The typical Paella are chicken and rabbit, and though seafood is a popular choice, its not a traditional version..
Be warned though, no matter where you decide to feast on this traditional dish while on holiday in Valencia, which you must, be prepared for the fact that you cant get a single portion from a restaurant as they are made for 2 people minimum. So, if you're like us and sharing isn't an option (veggie and carnivore) the way to get around it is to either go to the "comida para llevar" (small shops that make batches of paella and sell individual portions to take away), take a cooking lesson and learn to make your own, buy the ingredients from the central market and take the flavours and the skill of Valencia home with you to share with your familia y amigos..... or just order for yourself and then take some away for the following day!!
Top tip; if eating in a restaurant, be wary of places selling Paella for dinner, locals only eat it for lunch (usually on Sundays) so this is likely to be aimed just at tourists.