Paella is food you eat together. There is a Spanish saying that says: “Cuantos mas seremos, mas reiremos.” The more we are, the more we will laugh! This attitude is certainly reflected in eating paella.
In restaurants, things are mostly civilized, and the waiter acts like a referee. On private occasions, things are very different, and sometimes people barely fight each other for a few grains of rice. The biggest compliment for the cook!
Paella as the center of the family
Paella is the ultimate family dish! In many Spanish, particularly Valencian families, paella is on the menu every Sunday during the summer months.
It is not unusual that the preparation and eating of paella take up a large part of the Sunday. All the more so because one often eats paella at a different location than at home.
A large number of Valencian families have a place outside the city which they can go to during the weekend to relax or eat paella.
Often these places are small, old houses or buildings in the countryside on the north or the south of the city. It is commonly known as ‘El Campo’ (The countryside).
How to eat paella at home?
In the parts of Spain where a lot of paella is eaten, people eat the paella in the same way as they prepare it. Together!
Paella is made in a large, flat paella pan. Due to the large surface of the paella pan, after preparation, you put a huge plate on the table. This is just the interpretation that many Spanish people give to it.
“Why should you shovel it over again on a plate? We can also reach it now, right?
Once the paella is prepared and has been able to rest for a few minutes, the whole family, armed with a spoon, gathers around the paella pan.
According to taste, some fresh lemon juice is sprinkled over the paella first. After that, there can be attacked!
Trading in the paella pan
Even though the chef on duty has done his very best to spread all the ingredients as well as possible, a battle for the most valuable parts of the paella immediately starts.
Some people love chicken and try to get as many pieces of chicken as possible; others prefer Rabbit and go on a hunt for the rabbit. Another does not like meat but loves beans. Therefore the entire pan is checked for the tastiest beans.
After that, a barter is created on which the average stock exchange weakens. You want as many beans as possible for your piece of chicken.
The battle over the last bits of paella
When the barter of ingredients is over, and the paella pan begins to become empty. A new battle begins.
Unlike a cake, paella is not nicely cut into wedges, and each gets an equal share. No, the edges of the portions are, to put it mildly, rather vague…
It is therefore often the right of the strongest (read: fastest eater) who gets the biggest portion. Of course to the great dissatisfaction of the slower eating people that want to enjoy the paella.
There are often intense discussions over the paella pan. ” Are those few pieces of paella on your or my piece?
In the end, the pan is empty until the last grain of rice. The debates are mostly settled again, or postponed till the next paella is eaten.
Afterward, everyone is tired and satisfied, and it is time to go to sleep. The siesta begins!
How to eat paella in a restaurant?
In contrast to the hustle and bustle that eating paella in private circles can cause, in restaurants, it is often a lot more civilized.
When the paella is ready (it can take half an hour to three-quarters of an hour to prepare), the waiter comes to your table with the paella pan. Proudly the paella is presented, and there are compliments fished.
After that, the paella pan is placed on a side table, and the waiter will divide the portions fairly over the plates. Everyone gets what he or she deserves.
Experience shows that restaurants often make just enough paella for the number of people sitting at the table, so the pan is empty after dividing the portions.
However, if you have young kids, the pan may not be empty. In that case, the pan often stays on, and you can take a second portion.