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National Spanish Paella Day

Paella, a well-known Spanish dish, is enjoyed and celebrated today with National Spanish Paella Day. Dating to the eighteenth century, paella was created by farm laborers and rice farmers on the country's eastern coast around Valencia, who cooked it over open fires for lunch. Original Valencian paella was made with rice, snails, meat (commonly rabbit), beans, and green vegetables. Those closest to the coast opted for eels over snails and butter beans over other vegetables. The dish is named for the paellera, the flat, wide, and round pan with handles that are used to make it.

There are three main present-day paellas. Valencian paella (paella Valencia) is commonly made with green beans, lima or butter beans, tomatoes, seasonal artichokes, and meats like chicken, pork, or rabbit. Seafood paella (paella de marisco) is made with seafood like shrimp, clams, mussels, squid, lobster, and crayfish. It has no other meat and often doesn't have vegetables either. It is a favorite on Fridays and during the summer months. Mixed paella (paella mixta) is made with any combo of meat, seafood, vegetables, and beans. It is similar to the original paella but tends to be made with chicken instead of rabbit, and other shellfish besides snails. There also is vegetable paella (paella verdura), which is often made with tomatoes, bell peppers, seasonal artichokes, green peas, and green beans.

Paella is prepared by sautéing the meat or seafood in olive oil with herbs, garlic, and onions, or with sofrito, and then removing it from the pan. Rice is then simmered, usually with saffron, which gives it its golden yellow color, and with tomatoes and stock. The rice is usually bomba rice, but can be any short or medium-grain rice. Turmeric, paprika, garlic, rosemary, and cayenne pepper are regularly added. After simmering, the meats and seafood are mixed back in. The paella is sometimes garnished with peas, pimientos, and other vegetables.

How to Observe National Spanish Paella Day

Celebrate by having paella at a restaurant near you, or if you can, at one of the best places to have it, many of which can be found in Spain, specifically in Valencia. You could also make your own paella. Make sure to use a paellera, and to make it even more authentic, cook it over a fire. You could try your hand at:

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