You are currently viewing With or without chorizo?  The great controversy with the Valencian paella arrives at the BOE

The Official Gazette of the State publishes the resolution of the Valencian Government by which a file is initiated to declare the famous dish Well of Cultural Interest

Giant paella from a contest in Valencia.JOS CULLAR

That Valencian paella does not have chorizo ​​is something that Valencians know – and they strictly comply -, no matter how much chefs like Jamie Oliver try to contradict them. But, for the record and, above all, to protect the traditional dish that has achieved worldwide fame, the Valencian Government recently took the first step to declare the dish Asset of Cultural Interest. The resolution by which the file is initiated is published this Friday in the BOE.

And that is how the great controversy surrounding paella has fully entered the Official State Gazette. Paella with things? With or without chorizo? Before trying culinary inventions that unnerve Valencian society for ruining a dish with a lot of history and humble origins, the official answer is BOE.

“The internationalization of this dish sometimes entails a clear loss of its essence and origins, which lie in the Valencian territory. (…) Another consequence of this globalizing process has been the innovation in the ingredients and in the ways of preparing it. the paella. It is singular to travel to other countries and find the controversial paella with chorizo ​​or sausages or to observe a cook stirring the rice from the paella in the style of the typical Italian risotto “, points out the BOE. That is, Valencian paella without chorizo, please, because the opposite is a attack against tradition.

“Valencian paella, the art of uniting and sharing” is what aspires to be protected. Why Because “paella is the epicenter of the Valencian gastronomic tradition, a backbone that, together with its preparation and cultural relevance of the Spanish territory, has become one of the most prestigious world brands”.

But there is more: “Paella is not only constituted as a dish in itself. Its elaboration process and the art in its preparation and tasting make it constitute a true social phenomenon, coming to condition part of the landscape and ecosystem of the Valencian Community by the cultivation and obtaining of the food with which it is made “. Every self-respecting Valencian family gathers on Sundays around a paella. In fact, experts point out that paella makes no sense if it is not shared. Who makes a paella for himself? No one except a tourist.

In fact, in the early days of paella, “the recipe did not distinguish between classes”, so that “the vast majority of the population, middle class and, above all, low class (native Valencian peasants) eat together and in a short space “. As a result of this comes the famous custom that still survives to this day: eating all of the same paella.

But it was not until the 18th century when the first reference to paella or Valencian rice appears in a recipe manuscript, explaining the techniques for its preparation and noting that the rice must remain dry. Already in this century, as detailed by the BOE, the dish begins to gain popularity, reaching an international level in countries such as Belgium, called valencian rice, and in its capital, Brussels, Grand Royale paella.

But the real problems start at the end of the 19th century. “It is in 1885 when clear divergences begin to be found in the original recipe for paella. An example of this is the book entitled Newest practical manual of Spanish cuisine“At the beginning of the 20th century, this typical dish spread to large cities such as New York,” in which a variant called arroz con pollo is served at the Delmonico restaurant, much frequented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. ”

According to the BOE, “from the 19th century, this famous and identifying dish of Valencian culture began to take root until it was finally considered and established as a family recipe, which has never been without controversy, typical and paradigms, Which are born from the own and different customs of each place “. But beware, “there is no doubt about the essential ingredient: rice.”

The international leap of paella arrives in the 60s. The BOE echoes how “Paella reaches its zenith with the tourist boom of the 60s in Spain “.” The massive arrival of foreign tourists to spend their holidays on the Spanish coasts allows them to enjoy this Valencian delicacy and the demand to spread throughout the Spanish territory. This phenomenon caused the expansion of this dish beyond our borders “, he adds.

The return to the origins, preserving this “identifying symbol of the Valencian people”, is what lies behind the official attempt to recognize the traditional paella.

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