My love for paella started at a very early age – at a small arrocería (paella restaurant) called Posada de San Miguel in the picturesque coastal village of Altea, in the region of Valencia. Every August we would celebrate my grandad’s birthday there. This was his restaurant of choice every year and his birthday paella quickly became a family tradition.
Since then I would say my relationship with paella has been off and on. I started cooking at a very young age but we never cooked paellas at home as it’s not a tradition in Madrid where I grew up and – quite simply – it wasn’t in my mum’s repertoire. Every time we went east for the holidays, this famous dish that so many restaurants offered felt exotic and special to me. It was rare to find these places that could feed a large family like ours with just one pan – a pan that would come to the centre of the table for all of us to share. Paella was the perfect solution.
Over the years I’ve come to realise that anyone who has eaten a proper paella remembers it. It’s quite remarkable. I think the most likely reason for this is the fond memories that often attach themselves to a paella.