March 27, 2012

National Spanish Paella Day

"A good meal makes a man feel more charitable toward the whole world than any sermon." - Arthur Pendenys

It's National Spanish Paella Day!

Sponsored bySophie's Kitchen

When I think about my time living in The Canary Islands in Spain, I think about the beautiful weather, the beautiful people, and the beautiful food. It seemed to me that time stood still when friends and family came together over a nice meal or, what seemed to be, never-ending glasses of wine.

They know how to live in the moment.

I have many fond memories of eating paella with the family I was living with on Sunday afternoons. Sol, the mother of the house, would make an enormous pan of it filled with delicious seafood that was caught off the shores of our island that morning. We'd eat leisurely, laughing and talking truly as if none of us had anywhere else we needed - or wanted - to be.

But one of the most special moments for me was when the man I was teaching English to, Vicente, decided to teach me how to make paella. After going to le mercado and purchasing fresh squid (el calamar), prawns (de gambas), and mussels (el mejillones) we invited friends over and began cooking. "The first step to buena paella is a glass of vino," he told me as he opened a bottle of wine, poured a glass for both of us, then leaned against the counter to drink it as if there wasn't a room full of people waiting to be fed. Then, while making the paella it was important to drink another glass. "This makes los sabores come alive," he explained. And finally, before serving it, it was integral to toast your guests and drink another glass. So: "Salud!"

As a result, I don't actually really remember how to make paella.

I did reach out to my Spanish "sister", Erika, to see if she could ask her mum, Sol, to write down her personal recipe for authentic Spanish paella to share with you. She did and it's in one part Spanish, one part English (I think Erika knew I would understand the ingredients, so she translated the directions for me).

Erika also decided to make paella with her family for today's holiday and sent me a picture!

Here's what my vegetarian version looked like...

Just wanted to mention how thrilled I am to have something like Sophie's Kitchen vegan prawns which make it totally easy to be able to recreate dishes from my past as genuinely as possible. I was really nervous about how these were going to taste - would they ruin the paella? Or make it taste that much more real? I'll be honest: while the flavor was really mild and added to the composition of the dish, the texture was a little bizarre for me. But then again, I'm pretty sure that I started hating real shrimp towards the end of my life as an omnivore because of the texture and smell of them. So, if you were a BIG seafood fan in your pre-veggie days, and are missing that "shrimp" flavor, these might just be up your alley.

And remember: Sophie's Kitchen vegan prawns are soy, gluten, GMO, cholesterol, trans fat, saturated fat, MSG, sugar, and preservative free! They're also cruelty free and sustainable: over-fishing in the open sea has created numerous problems. Many marine species are now endangered or threatened because of "bottom trawling" or "bycatching."

Happy National Spanish Paella Day!

Disclaimer: The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer. Opinions expressed are totally my own and are NOT in anyway influenced by monetary compensation. Logo used with permission of company.