My cultural connection with paella

I always seem to miss Spanish food when I’m back in the United States. Moreover, I want to share some of my discoveries from the culinary world with my friends and family so a few weeks ago I decided to make paella.

Spanish paella is a frenzy of aromas and I wanted to be as close to the original taste as possible. Naturally, I started by searching for some paella recipes online but something was missing. I wasn’t quite satisfied with the level of detail offered and felt unsure if the persons who published them really knew how to make authentic paella. But I knew someone who made an amazing one, a dear friend from Sevilla.

Going to the source

Luckily, I had an Enjoy Prepaid calling card and the time zone difference was still bearable so I was able to call my friend to ask her for the recipe. I got more than that. What started as a simple friendly call to ask for a favor turned into a two-hour chat in which she explained all the details and secrets of making great paella.

My favorite paella is the delicious seafood one with a touch of chorizo in it. I quickly found out that I did not have all the necessary ingredients so my cooking class started with a trip to the supermarket.

How to cook good paella

Paella is not difficult to make but if you want it to be tasty you need to have the right ingredients, know exactly how to preheat the oven, and when to add the spices.

Among other things, you’ll need special paella rice, a teaspoon of smoked paprika, some saffron, a few finely chopped cloves of garlic, parsley, onion, good quality olive oil and freshly ground pepper. I listened to the suggestion of my friend and made paella with chicken, chorizo, prawns and mussels and I was lucky to find all of them.

Paella cooks in about 90 minutes and I’m positive that without the help of my friend I would have messed something up. Luckily she was on the phone with me explaining that I need to preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and the way I need to fry the chicken in some olive oil in a deep pan before putting it in the oven. She explained how the rice should be nearly cooked after 20 minutes and I gave her updates on how everything was going so far.

The secret to tasty paella? Good Spanish friends

In the end, I don’t know what I enjoyed more, the wonderful paella I was able to share with some friends that came over later that night or the long conversation I had with my Spanish friend.

I’m grateful that with all this technology nowadays including these inexpensive calling cards you can easily order online, you can feel so close to people who are far away. This way thousands of miles in between people can become just a distant idea.

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