Paella is known the world over as one of Spain’s most popular dishes. Originating from Valencia it emerged, like a lot of the best foods, as a worker’s favourite that was traditionally cooked over an open fire. The beauty of paella lies in it being a dish that is flexible, one in which the cook can throw in almost anything that they might have to hand or might be in season. That is what was often the case with those cooking it in the fields of Spain, whether it is a rabbit, a chicken or any other vegetables that may be growing at the time.

More recently, the head chef of ‘The Steps of La Lonja’ (‘Los Escalones de La Lonja’), David Montero has released a cookbook aiming to clear the fog and unshroud the mysteries behind the infamous Valencian dish. The Paella ambassador’s new book ‘Paella Lovers’ sees Montero imparting his knowledge onto the many creative ways paella can be adapted to many different tastes, following on from the star of the show… the Paella Valenciana.

The markets of Valencia are his paintbrush and paella is his canvas. Montero starts with the basics (although by no means the least important) such as choosing the correct rice and their cooking times, alongside what ingredients can be used for paella in coordination with their season. A fundamental item missing from a lot of cooking books, it is very important to understand what produce is in season and how this can impact it from becoming a dish that is mediocre to it being one that can leave a lasting impact.

‘Paella Lovers’ by David Montero is available in Spanish and English versions for €18.90 from Editorial Sargantana

Report by Sebastian Garraway

Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’

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