Valencia The Birthplace of Paella
The origin of the word paella (pah-ey-yuh) is debated among many chefs, Spaniards, and just about anyone who has had a great plate of this tasty rice dish. What is certain is that after the Moors brought rice to Spain, in the 8th century, it became a staple in Spanish cuisine.
In L'Albufera (region in Valencia, Spain) the medium-short grained paella rice is still cultivated today and nearly two millennia after its inception is renowned as the best paella rice in the world. The plump grains are known for having the starch concentrated in their centers, thus allowing them to absorb more liquid without getting soggy or sticky; ideal for great paella.
The term 'paella' is thought to have originated from the Old Valencian term 'paellera' (shallow pan made of steel), in which the rice farmers would use to make the dish over an open fire. Being that they were in the fields they used the meats that they had access to: snails, rabbit, frog legs, and or duck. On special occasions a pricey chicken would be added. As the dish became increasingly popular, and with the Mediterranean Sea nearby, such sea faring delicacies as shrimp, lobster, squid, clams, scallops, and mussels were added.
While Paella Valenciana didn't get its start with seafood it has since been coined a rice-with-seafood dish associated with the many coastal communities in Valencia. Paella has become a way of life in the region and throughout Spain! If you ask a local in Spain where to find the best paella, you will likely be told their mother makes the best paella. Truth be told, we believe that our very own 'Lolita's Paella Valenciana' is the best. She hails from that region and family in Spain can attest to its amazing flavor!