Does putting chorizo into a paella make it any less real?

Traditions evolve, move around, change...Not according to the paella police

Paella with chorizo and lobster

Paella with chorizo and lobster

 

It never ceases to amaze me that every time I post a picture of paella on Instagram or Twitter, I seem to attract all the paella aficionados on the internet. Of course, I say to them, I am aware of the tradition of paella, but I choose to broaden my horizons a little and put different ingredients into it.

Perhaps it’s similar to those who choose to put pineapple on a pizza? Does putting chorizo into a paella make it any less real? Surely, you would say, traditions evolve, move around, change. Not according to the paella police, who seem to spend their days searching for breaches against the real paellas: seafood, rabbit and snails or vegetables.

I’m all for respecting tradition, but I’m equally happy pushing our narrow boundaries with regards to food. Telling someone you need to cook paella the way it was cooked in the 19th and early 20th century (when the tradition was codified), is akin to asking them to ditch their smartphone and listen to music on a phonograph.

Why do we get so upset, so righteous, when people make changes to a good tradition? It’s not like one culture owned it in the first place. What makes paella “real” in my case is the rice one uses, and cooking it in a paella pan (but even that can change). 

How to make chorizo and lobster paella

Fry a diced onion with some diced chorizo in a little oil in a large frying pan. After a few minutes, add some halved cherry tomatoes and minced garlic. Pour over 550ml of stock and 100ml of tomato passada. When it comes to the boil, add 250g of paella rice, a pinch of saffron, and a bay leaf. Simmer until the rice absorbs all the stock.

Sprinkle cooked lobster (or crab) meat over the top and season with flaky sea salt. Rest for a few minutes, to allow the heat of the paella to warm the lobster, and then serve. 

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