We are glad to offer this delicious dish in Umbal, our gorgeous ocean front restaurant, once a week, to choose from three options: vegetarian, seafood or beef.
Nerea is one of the few boutique hotels in Tankah Bay, Tulum that offers this incredible Spanish dish beautifully cooked and presented by our Chef Carlos Peregrina.
The paella is a kind of large frying pan, with two or more small handles and little depth. This proportion allows the ingredients prepared in it to be adequately cooked. It is used to cook paella rice, a typical Spanish dish with variations in the different regions of the country.
Origin of the name
There are several theories about the origin of the word “paella”. Some attribute it to Latin, since sartén in Latin is spelled “patella”. The word paella means frying pan, in Valencian, and was taken from French at the end of the 16th century. It was synonymous in Spanish with “arroz valenciano” or “arroz a la valenciana” from 1900 onwards.
There is another much more romantic theory. It is said that there is a story in which a man prepared paella for his girlfriend to win her affection. In Spanish, paella may be a derivation of the phrase “por ella” or “for her”. While this may just be a cute story, there is some truth to it, as in Spain women generally do the cooking, yet paella is traditionally a man’s job.
Paella is undoubtedly one of the emblematic dishes of Spanish gastronomy, especially Valencian, and there is no tourist who does not succumb to the charms of this rice.
History of paella
According to experts, this dish emerged in the rural areas of Valencia, between the 15th and 16th centuries, due to the need of peasants and shepherds for a meal that was easy to prepare and with the ingredients they had on hand in the countryside. It was always eaten in the afternoon.
Originally, the ingredients were poultry, rabbit or hare, fresh vegetables, rice, saffron and olive oil, which were mixed in the paella with water and orange branches. Everything was cooked over a low flame.
The peasants used the snails they found in the fields, Valencian paella can also include rabbit, duck, chicken, beef, tomatoes, beans, peppers, zucchini and onions. Saffron was added to give the dish more flavor and aroma. Some people also make it with cuttlefish, squid, prawns, crayfish, mussels and/or clams, as well as fresh vegetables.
Paella with squid
But today, the best known version of this typical dish is the mixed paella, a later variation that horrifies the Valencians, who consider that the authentic Valencian paella cannot mix seafood with meat. But paella is one of those dishes that admits practically any ingredient, each person uses the one he/she likes the most and there is never one like the other. There is no recipe that unifies the great variety of possibilities of this dish.
Check out our hotel and our gastronomic experiences in: Nerea.