We had the pleasure to speak with Miguel Ángel Pérez, Brand Manager for Valencia Tourism to discuss a creative initiative that showcases the Paella Valenciana to the world.
What is World Paella Day?
It is an initiative from several Valencian institutions to highlight the Paella and its origin: Valencia. Dedicating one day, September 20 to share the paella with the whole world. Last year was the first edition and were thrilled with the excellent results, thanks to the teamwork of numerous entities and Valencian companies, as well as the support of Turespaña and its offices.
There are many theories, what is the real origin of the Valencian Paella?
Talking about a real origin is somewhat complicated. According to the etymological origin of the word "paella" it is clear that it refers to the flat open container "platella" (in Latin) ... which evolved into "paella".
However, I prefer the "romantic" version that takes place about two hundred years ago around Albufera (the largest lake in Spain, south of Valencia), women worked at home (because they had many children) and men worked from Monday to Sunday and until noon on Sunday that was when he went to church (Spain was a very Catholic and practicing country). After the mass, the men said to their wives "darling, today I cook for you as in” – “para ella” which translates to “for her” and "paella" would become the name of the dish. Obviously the first explanation is more scientific.
What does paella mean for a city like Valencia?
Paella is the fourth most "googled" recipe in the world; It is one of the most important icons of Spain and of course of Valencia. Thousands of tourists visit us every year in search of discovering "the birthplace of Paella", visiting the Albufera and the Valencian Huerta. They come to taste a delicious paella while watching the beaches that Sorolla painted or learn to cook the authentic Valencian Paella with chicken and vegetables.
Can a Valencian have paella with chorizo ... even if it's only for a day?
Yes, but only on September 20 (#WorldPaellaDay) that is the day we let our guard down and we allow all ingredients, the other 364 days we return to the traditional Paella Valenciana, which has the traditional ingredients and chorizo is not one of them. In Valencia, we cook rice in over 40 different ways, but there is only one Paella Valenciana.
Are you aware that one of the most known Spanish words is "paella"? What strength does that fact give them in the face of promoting the city?
We are definitely aware and that is why we are turning to the promotion of Paella, making Valencia known as the birthplace of it (something that everyone in Spain knows, but not so much abroad).