#2: Spain – Paella

I could write a book on Spain. I’ve been there twice and would happily go back a third time to visit the countryside and smaller cities and towns that boast the best food in the world. I hold the food of this region near the top of my favorites list and I’m fortunate to have a number of great restaurants in the D.C. area to get my fix.

My first trip to Spain was in 2009 and I focused that trip solely on Barcelona. And with all of the food and art, 6 days was the perfect amount of time to spend in and around that city. While I was there, in addition to eating and drinking my weight in Jamon Iberico and red wine, I took a cooking class, visited La Boqueria, the famous public market where I stocked up on saffron and jelly candies, and ate at some truly amazing restaurants.

I returned to Spain in 2018 for a quick stop in Madrid after a few days in Portugal. I loved the art museums of Madrid, and the food scene there was incredible. I did have lunch at Sobrino de Botin which holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest restaurant in the world. I had suckling pig which then promptly put me in a food coma. Only those chocolate dipped churros could bring me back to reality.

I could have chosen a number of dishes to make from Spain and I have several cookbooks to help with this task. But I decided to make a hybrid of a few paella recipes using some items in my refrigerator that were nearing the end of their shelf life including shrimp, chorizo and chicken. Was this my best paella? Hardly. But in the true spirit of paella, it was a mix of things that I had available and with the flavors of the region.

Level of Overall Effort (scale of 1-5): 2

Skill Level: Beginner/Intermediate

Would make again? Not this particular combination of ingredients but paella in general? Absolutely.

Additional notes: I do not find paella to be particularly difficult to make, but true paella aficionados would find this version as a bit of an imposter. Chorizo? Corn? More complex paellas involve a variety of seafood and while I do feel I’m fairly accomplished in cooking some shellfish, I like to leave those larger efforts to the professionals. Like this guy.

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