Origins of Spanish Paella: A history of this classic dish

Oct 25, 2023 | Paellas

Origins of Spanish Paella

Paella is a traditional Spanish dish consisting of rice cooked with other ingredients, such as meat, seafood, vegetables, or legumes. It is a very popular dish in Spain and around the world, and is considered one of the most emblematic dishes of Spanish cuisine.

Paella is believed to have originated in the Valencian region of Spain in the 14th century. The first written mention of paella dates back to this time, but the dish did not become popular until the 19th century. In the 20th century, paella spread throughout Spain and became an international dish.

Over time, paella has evolved to include a wider variety of ingredients, such as seafood, vegetables, and legumes. Today, there are many different types of paella, including valencian paella, mixed paella, seafood paella, and vegetarian paella.

Paella is a delicious and versatile dish that can be enjoyed on any occasion. It is a perfect dish to share with friends and family, and is a great way to experience Spanish cuisine.

Humble beginnings of the Spanish Paella

Paella originated as a humble dish, which was cooked outdoors, over a wood fire, in a flat and wide pan called a paellera. The goal was to make the most of the available ingredients and share the dish with family or friends.

Over time, paella has become a more sophisticated dish, with a wide variety of ingredients and flavors. Today, paella is one of the most emblematic dishes of Spanish cuisine, and is enjoyed around the world.

Origins of Spanish Paella: Was it once a poor people meal?

Here is the debate about whether paella was once a poor people meal.

Some people believe that paella was originally a dish for the poor. They point out that the ingredients are relatively inexpensive and that paella can be made in large quantities, making it a good option for feeding a large group of people.

Others believe that paella was always a dish for the wealthy. They point out that the ingredients, such as saffron and seafood, were once expensive. They also argue that paella is a labor-intensive dish that would have been difficult for poor people to make.

The truth is that there is no definitive answer to this question. There is evidence to support both sides of the argument. However, it is likely that paella was originally a dish for the poor, but it became more popular among the wealthy over time.

Here are some of the evidence that supports the claim that paella was once a poor man’s meal:

  • The ingredients are relatively inexpensive. The main ingredients of paella are rice, which is a staple food in Spain, and vegetables, which are also relatively inexpensive.
  • Paella can be made in large quantities. This makes it a good option for feeding a large group of people, which is something that would have been important for poor families.
  • Paella is a simple dish that can be made with basic cooking skills. This would have made it a more accessible dish for poor people.

Here are some of the evidence that supports the claim that paella was always a dish for the wealthy:

  • The ingredients, such as saffron and seafood, were once expensive. Saffron is a spice that is made from the flowers of a crocus plant and is very expensive. Seafood was also once a luxury food.
  • Paella is a labor-intensive dish. It takes time to prepare the ingredients and cook the paella. This would have been a challenge for poor people who had to work long hours.
  • Paella is a dish that is associated with special occasions. This suggests that paella was once a dish that was reserved for the wealthy.

Types of paellas

There are many different types of paella, each with its own ingredients and flavors. Some of the most Traditional types of Spanish paella are:

  • Valencian paella: The Valencian paella is the original recipe, and is made with rice, chicken, rabbit, green beans, garrofón (a type of bean), and saffron.
    Valencian paella
  • Mixed paella: The mixed paella is a paella that combines meat and seafood. Common ingredients include chicken, rabbit, shrimp, clams, and squid.
    Valencian paella vs. lobster rice paella
  • Seafood paella: The seafood paella is a paella that only contains seafood. Common ingredients include shrimp, clams, squid, mussels, and octopus.
    Valencian paella with seafood
  • Vegetarian paella: The vegetarian paella is a paella that does not contain meat or seafood. Common ingredients include vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, onions, and peas.
    Valencian paella with vegetables

 

A master paella chef preparing a traditional Valencian paella with azafran and herbs

Paella is a delicious and versatile dish that can be enjoyed on any occasion. It is a perfect dish to share with friends and family, and is a great way to experience Spanish cuisine.

What is Paella Lover?

“Paella Lover is a personal experience of paella as a Valencian, but also the knowledge I have accumulated during my whole life. It is not a mere company, Paella Lover is me, sharing my knowledge with anyone who wants to participate in this culinary journey.” Guillermo Bermell

Do you want to know more about the Origins of Spanish Paella?

Contact us.

Related posts

Skip to content