In 2009 my wife and I visited Spain and a couple of things happened. Well, actually, a lot of things happened, but that journey in October proved the catalyst that drove my passions into my current career shift out of outside vitamin sales and selling comic books. For one thing, upon my return I got the opportunity to manage a comic book store for the first time; and while it was a mixed blessing that not only fulfilled a dream and a nightmare at the same time, it also drove me to work at The Spanish Table where I developed my strong interest in food and cooking. Selling Spanish imported groceries, cookware, wine, and charcuterie really opened me up to possibilities, which led to selling wine and cheese at a local specialty store and ultimately to become the manager of the Berkeley Bowl Cheese Department.
I also became quite proficient at cooking paella, perhaps the signature dish of that country’s cuisine, but like all food journeys, my tastes, while rooted in Espana, were expanding to French and other Mediterranean cuisines.
I hadn’t made a paella in at least a year, I was pretty sure.
Consequently, I was pleased to note that my ‘paella chops’ weren’t as rusty as I thought last night as I pulled out one of my smaller paelleras and threw it on the stovetop. Making paella is considered by many to be too…difficult, too strange, and too complicated.
Oil in the pan. Fry minced onions and garlic. Add chorizo and pimenton. Add rice and combine. Add broth which has been simmering in another pot as well as the saffron you just toasted and mixed with a tad of white wine. Mix. Add your fish, veggies, give it all a bit of a stir, turn the heat down to a mild simmer, and about fifteen minutes later your paella is ready.
There? Wasn’t that easy?