Paella is a best loved signature dish of Spain. There are many different variations of Paella, but all are centered around what is readily fresh and available. Paella has a very humble origin as a poor man's meal, but we know that it is so much more than that.
The name paella comes from the special kind of iron pan that is used to cook it. The traditional paella pan often made of cast iron, and is round and shallow with handles at each end.Even if you do not have a traditional paella pan, you can still make delicious paella with the cooking utensils you have available.
Once rice was commonly used in Spain, peasants were known to have made rice dishes with locally grown ingredients such as onion and tomato. On special occasions, or at times when meat or chicken was available, it would be added to the rice dish.This typical Valencian rice dish eventually came to be known as paella valenciana.
Traditionally, paella is a family dish, intended to be shared at a big Sunday gathering. The ideal paella is often cooked over an open fire, although most of us today settle for the kitchen stove with adequate results. In Spain, grandmothers can still be found making it in the back garden for the family on a special occasion.
Each geographic region of Spain has it's own characteristic way of doing paella, so depending on your flavor preferences you kind find the paella that is just right for you. You can emphasize meat, seafood, or a little bit of everything. The most important factor is the enjoyment.