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The Basque contribution to Valencian paella

Maria Jose Gonzalez

May 10, 2023 | 9:00 p.m.

The paella and the paellera: a utensil and a plate

Ana Vega, National Gastronomy Award for the best journalistic work and Basque writer, refutes the controversy over the Basque origin of paella, attributed to statements by the hotelier Alberto Fernández Bombín. Vega maintains that, if anything, the Basques helped in the creation of the utensil, but not in the dish itself.

The controversy arises from the utensil used to make paella, called "paella" in Valencia and "paellera" in almost the rest of the world. Ana Vega, a specialist in historical documentation of the kitchen, explains that, although she has spoken with Alberto Fernández, she has not found documentary evidence to support the theory of the Basque origin of the container among the catalogs of manufacturers of pots and pans of the time.

The Basque steel industry and the origin of the paellera

The writer acknowledges that the utensil manufacturing It became cheaper after the Third Carlist War (1874-1875), thanks to improvements in the steel industry and blast furnaces. However, it has not found evidence of specific paella manufacturers in the Basque Country.

Paella in history: first recipes and paelleros

The use of the term "paella" to refer to the dish has been documented since before the Carlist War. The first written recipe of paella appeared in 1857 in a book published in Madrid, under the title of «Sartén a la valenciana (Paella)». Two years later, in a book entitled "The Valencians painted by themselves", the trade of the paellero was described, a professional dedicated to the preparation of the dish.

Paella in everyday life in the XNUMXth century

Large paellas for fifteen or twenty people were rare at that time. They were mainly owned by professional paelleros or people who rented the container in picnic areas. In normal houses, containers more similar to a normal frying pan but taller were used, as can be seen in photographs of the time.

Rice in Basque cuisine in the XNUMXth century

At the end of the XNUMXth century, the Basques prepared rice, but they did it in their own way, including chorizo, something that is not well regarded by the Valencians. At that time, rice became popular in the kitchen of places where it was not cultivated, as in Asturias with rice pudding. In Euskadi rice was prepared "with things", it was even served at weddings.

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