The history of the paella is part of the general history of Valencia. The Valencian paella is the best known dish of the rich and varied Spanish gastronomy and a benchmark of society.
The origin of paella, like all the popular dishes of each area, is only the combination of the elements that people lived surrounded by.
In the region of Valencia the rich area of irrigated orchards provided inhabitants with fresh vegetables; moreover they used to raise chickens and rabbits for family consumption. All these facts plus the proximity of Albufera Natural Park as well as the existence of rice fields met the conditions necessary for the making of this dish.
Furthermore, in its origins it was decided to add seafood and fish to paella, in the coastal area, as well as its own olive oil from the Mediterranean Sea region.
The pan is called paella or paellera, depending on the area of Spain, hence the name of the most famous dish of Spanish gastronomy.
Paella is a pan with two handles (the original unique handle has been taken away) attached to support the weight of the stew. It must have a minimum diameter of 30 centimeters and not very deep, with edges of 7 or 12 centimeters, according to its diameter.
There is a big controversy about the true recipe for paella. Being a popular dish, everyone did the paella with the ingredients at his disposal.
If they had artichokes, green beans and chicken, so they did it with these ingredients; if they didn’t have artichokes, so they added peppers… and they added a few handfuls of rice to this extravagant mixing. It was produced in a single container that was also the communal plate, because paella was eaten in the same plate where it was cooked.