Going with the Grain

While almost every Spanish cook will claim that their recipe for paella is the best, most agree that the classic savory rice dish has but one true capital: Valencia. The medieval poor of this southern Spanish city were apparently the first to hit upon the idea of adding scavenged morsels of meat and vegetables to rice as a way of enlivening an otherwise meager diet—and the paella was born. Servants would take banquet scraps home, and farm laborers would search the fields for bits of vegetables and small game, with all of it ending up in the flat-bottomed pans that are...

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