Spanish Paella is a rice dish from Spain.  I’m not sure why they specify Spanish, because I was under the impression all Paella originated from Spain.  The meal comes from the Valencia region in Eastern Spain.  Traditionally it is made with seafood or rabbit and snails, but now is made with almost anything you want to put in it.  Paella Valencia is made with rabbit, chicken, and snails.  Snails were most common because they were cheap and easily accessible.  Rabbit and chicken were added on celebrations and special occasions.  Paella de Marisco is made with various shellfish, this became more popular as the dish rose from being a labor class meal eaten in the fields, to a popular symbol of Spanish culture.

Travel Tip:  Paella is most common in Valencia, Spain.  All these restaurants are tourist traps, the people of Valencia make their own delicious Paella at home.  So don’t be tricked into paying large sums of money for quality Paella because it is all the same, and none of the restaurants are really mom and pop style with a good family recipe.  (Make friends with a local and get invited over for dinner).  Also, Spanish citizen travel extensively in their own country so just because you see someone from Spain eating at a restaurant doesn’t mean they are a local.

It is said the word Paella comes from the Arab word ‘baqiyah’ which means left overs.  Paella is a mix of leftovers from royal banquets mixed in a large pot with rice.  Although, others believe the word Paella comes from ‘patella’ the large dish it is made on.

The recipe I got for Spanish Paella came from a family friend.  I used shrimp and clams in this recipe.  The flavor was outrageous!  I may have used too much water because after boiling and simmering and absorbing I still had a wetter rice, but it provided for perfect flavor.  A great lunch!