As most people know, Spain is the land of paella. But many people do not know there are also large parts of Spain in which paella is not or barely eaten. In Spain paella is considered a regional dish of the Valencia region.
The diversity of ‘paella country’ Spain
Spain is located in the southwest of Europe. Together with Portugal, Spain is the so-called Iberian Peninsula.
Spain is the largest of the two countries and covers about 80% of the total area of the Iberian Peninsula with a surface of over 500,000 square kilometers.
Spain also exceeds Portugal in terms of population. Spain has almost 50 million inhabitants, compared to 11 million in Portugal.
The Spanish landscape is very varied. There are famous, sun-warm beaches on the Costa’s on the Mediterranean Sea, high mountains in the Pyrenees in the north and fresh and relatively wet regions in the northwest.
The diversity of the landscape and climate is also visible in Spanish cuisine. In dry and mountainous areas (dried) meats are popular. On the coasts, on the other hand, fish, shellfish, and crustaceans are prominently on the menu.
Paella as a local dish
Rice is the most important ingredient of paella. It is not surprising, though, that the rice and paella regions overlap for the most part.
The Albufera rice and nature reserve, just south of the city of Valencia, is one of the largest and most important rice areas in Spain.
Valencia is situated on a plain on the east coast of Spain. The presence of a large salt and later freshwater reservoir made this region perfect for growing specific types of rice.
It was the Northern African Moors who, in the tenth century, made the first steps towards rice cultivation. This has ultimately led to the Valencia region still being the paella center of the world today.
If you visit the Valencia region, you will soon notice that paella is on the menu of lots of restaurants. There are even Arrocerias, or Rice restaurants, which focus entirely on regional rice dishes.
The Valencians are very proud of their paella. They are doing everything in their power to protect the recipe of the authentic Paella Valenciana.
Paella is seen as a dish of the whole of Spain by outsiders. The Spaniards themselves and Valencians in particular, however, see this quite differently.
How to make your own paella?
Would you like to make a delicious paella on your own? Then take a look at the Paella Recipes page elsewhere on this site. Here you’ll find the most delicious and authentic paella recipes for the most popular types of paella.