Today, as the title of today’s blog suggests – we were going to learn to make paella…. hopefully better than the one we had yesterday! We walked from the hotel through the old town to get to the school and passed some lovely buildings and parks along the way…
First we had to have a group photo… Sure we look happy to be in this pic… nothing unusual in this one… it’s only the beginning…
We followed our host – Orla (from Ireland) to the Centre Market to buy our ingredients… on the way there we passed a small square with this mural. It looks like an opera singer in a big frock standing in a paella pan…. I quipped to Me Jenny – ‘oh, aren’t you lucky that you didn’t decide to wear that today? That would have been embarrassing’, and a lady walking next to me said, ‘Oh, no, I think it’s an opera singer…. in a paella pan.’ Um…..
The Central Market has been around for yonks and is apparently the biggest undercover market in the all of Europe. I don’t know how they check these things… is that somebody’s job? I could do that job.
Anyway, the symbol or mascot of the Central Market in Valencia is the Cockatoo. That’s right, there’s one a the top of the building and in the logo. Apparently it’s because of the sound of the market – lots of chatter. Do cockatoos do a lot of chattering in Spanish? Maybe they do.
This market would have to be the freshest that Me Jenny and I have seen thus far. A lot of the stalls were closed today because it was a national holiday, but there was enough for us to do some purchasing. It used to hold over 1000 tiny stalls, but now there are approx 400, and they’re now a bit bigger.
We’ll just get a pic of that moment that we all climb the steps…. Me Jen and I are working our way to the back…
Orla went stall by stall and explained each of the ingredients and why you use one thing rather than another in a traditional paella.
And we’ll just get a photo of each stall we visit…. Can you spot us here? Major points if you can.
What about in this one?
Or here? (I think this one is my favourite)
Traditional Valencian paella, just so you know is made with chicken and rabbit and then beans, then you have your seafood version and a vegetarian/vegan version. Our group was making all three which are all prepared a little differently and Me Jenny and I opted for seafood.
In this tray of snails they were mostly sleeping, but there was one rogue dude who had climbed to the top of the basket, had a look over, contemplated his escape and then turned back around… Obviously I’m guessing that’s what he did – that would have taken an hour to stand and watch! I caught him on the downslide and made a guess at the rest.
We walked back to the school and donned our chef’s outfits… not too shabby. Me Jenny looked a little like she was going fishing in a dinghy before we did hers up at the back.
In the kitchen our ingredients were all set out for us and our paella pans (the pan is actually just called ‘paella’- apparently you call the food after the instrument.)
We met our Chef, Carolina who was a riot. She only spoke Spanish, so Orla translated everything, but Carolina was so animated that you could pretty much tell what she was saying….
Then we got cooking. It was chaotic and we didn’t always know what was happening, but it was good fun, and by the end….. I think this bottom photo shows the exact time that I asked Me Jenny if she had any idea what Chef Carolina had just said and Me Jenny replied, “nooooo!”
… and le voilà! That’s ours at the front.
Naturally we danced around the paella…..
Then we did a bit of posing with our paellas, then we got stuck in!
We were awarded a certificate that says “non professional” paella maker – just in case you tried to add it onto your resume… I tried to make my chef’s hat like Carolinas… I think I pulled it off.
And that was our day….. but not before one more group pic… front and centre for the finale.
Now that we’re experts…. who wants paella?