• Indra Pratama

PUTTING SPAIN ON THE MAP: PAELLA

Jakarta - Indonesia

When we think of Spanish cuisine, the first thing that comes to mind is undoubtedly churros; Spanish doughnuts dipped in chocolate or caramel sauce, tapas; a collection of small (sometimes more than a bite) dishes served with drinks such as wine or sangria, and who doesn't know the famous Iberico ham, also known as Jamon Iberico by locals. Spanish cuisine, which is found in the Mediterranean, shares the same robust flavor character as its Mediterranean neighbors. Many recipes in the coastal region have seafood as the main ingredient. Because the Spanish adore hunting and it's part of their legacy extending back to the dawn of civilization, a substantial amount of game meat is used in the countryside. Other than the famed Spanish export, paella, I can't think of any other Spanish dishes that embody such features.

Spanish cuisine, which is found in the Mediterranean, shares the same robust flavour profile as its Mediterranean neighbours.

Paella is a rice-based delicacy cooked in stock and topped with fish, rabbit, and chicken in several parts of Spain. Like pavlova disputes between Kiwis and Australians, Spaniards have contested the genuine origins of paellas. Many people believe that this cuisine originated in Valencia, Spain's south coast region. Although the dish is usually referred to as paella, the phrase really refers to a round shallow pan in which the dish is cooked. Many people believe that the dish was created for lunch by farmworkers in the Valencian countryside. Rice is being cooked in a large pan, and whatever they have on hand is likely to be what's in season at the time, such as meats, vegetables, eels, or freshwater fish or local know it as as el pescado.

The phrase "Paella" really refers to a round shallow pan in which the dish is cooked

Many wealthy Valencians spent their leisure time in the countryside in the nineteenth century. They were introduced to the food, and it is thought that here is where the change was made to suit their preferences. By replacing freshwater fish and root vegetables with saffron and chicken (which was considered a luxury at the time), these people have moved this dish to the coastal, where seafood paella is made, and is now the most well-known version of paella in the world.

Another version of the creation tale for paella originates from the Al-Andalus period, when it was developed by the Moors. Many Moors work in Andalusia's noble households. They would bring leftover meats home and re-cook them with rice, just like the Chinese do with leftover rice, and thus fried rice was born. Another factor to consider is that the moors brought spices and saffron to Spain, which explains why saffron is used in traditional paellas. Whatever version you believe is correct, I can guarantee you that this cuisine is the pride of the Spaniards, and they should be proud of it.


My first paella encounter was not particularly authentic. I had my first taste of paella in a Wellington night market, my second in-depth experience with Paella was in London. This seafood kiosk at London's borough market, on the other hand, sells fresh seafood as well as cooked delicacies like calamari. Paella is being sold as a weekly special on that day. I can still taste the spiciness of the capsicum and smoky paprika, as well as the creaminess and richness of the Arroz, or rice cooked in stock, which gives them depth of flavor, when topped with fresh seafood like as prawns, squid, clams, and mussels. Crispy nutty soccarat is a crucial piece of paella, and I believe it should be included in every paella. The rice on the bottom of the pan must be somewhat crunchy to make soccarat. It's done by increasing the heat under the pan during the last few minutes of cooking until the food begins to smell toasted. The rice starts to crackle, and each bite of this meal makes me fall in love with paella.

Crispy nutty soccarat is a crucial piece of paella, and I believe it should be included in every paella

Fortunately, the paella's chef comes from Valencia, so it's somewhat authentic. Of all factors, it's fantastic. A few years ago, I got the opportunity to eat another paella in Jakarta, but it was not as excellent. I suppose it's because the chef isn't from Valencia and hence the food isn't as authentic. Today, there are five most known forms of paella. The first is Paella Valenciana, which is typically topped with chicken, pork, or game meat such as hare or rabbit. Certain restaurants refuse to serve game meat since it may be unfamiliar territory for some clientele, particularly visitors. Paella de Marisco is the second form, which uses exclusively seafood like as prawns, calamari, clams, and mussels. The third is Paella Mixta, which is a hybrid of the Marsico and Valenciana paellas; it's also known as Paella Andaluz and is arguably the most popular. The Paella Negra, which is commonly topped with seafood, is the fourth option. Even yet, the rice is generally cooked with squid ink, giving this paella a particular flavor profile. Last but not least, there's the Paella Vegetarian, which, as you might expect, is a vegetarian version of paella that doesn't include any meat or fish.

According to Joseph Nye, a country's soft power is based on three resources: its culture (in places where it is appealing to others), its political ideals (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policy (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority). Let's envision a red string connecting Nye's public diplomacy theory and Franco's promotion of paella as the Spanish national cuisine around the world. In that scenario, I believe paella fulfills all of the requirements. Paella is undoubtedly appealing to a global audience. This dish exemplified the best of Spanish culinary culture. Domestically, it has social and maybe political significance for Spaniards, particularly during the Franco era and possibly even afterward.

This dish exemplified the best of Spanish culinary culture. Domestically, it has social and maybe political significance for Spaniards, particularly during the Franco era and possibly even afterward.

This theory is also supported by the dictatorship regime in Spain, which ruled from 1936 to 1975, during which period the famous General Franco cherry-picked this dish to be featured as a national icon of Spain, in order to assert to the world, the Spanish identity through this dish, among dozens of other cultures across the country. The simple reason is that Franco enjoys a superb paella. According to multiple sources, he always eats out on Thursdays in order to find the best Paella in Madrid, and it works. Not only does this meal put Spain on the map outside of Spain, but it is also loved by Spaniards, as evidenced by the fact that paella is still on the menu at many pubs and restaurants. Clearly, you don't want to miss a customer with such a massive reputation, and it is still carried out to this day.

General Franco cherry-picked this dish to be featured as a national icon of Spain, in order to assert to the world, the Spanish identity through this dish

From the standpoint of public diplomacy, this dish has a distinct feature that is useful in gastro diplomacy, not only because it tastes delicious but also because it captures public attention. "Power is the ability to affect others to obtain the outcomes you want," says Joseph Nye, and this dish, whether you realize it or not, has the power to attract people, to draw more attention, and to alter your perspective on Spain. Paella is prepared in a huge, round shallow pan that grabs all of the attention in the room. It smells wonderful and is topped with the finest vegetables available, which, in my opinion, obviously attracts attention. From the shellfish to the chorizo, to the wine and the Spanish vegetables utilized, each item, in my opinion, plays an important part in the overall dish, and despite the fact that there are many goods in this dish, each component shines and all ingredients harmonize as one. And it is for this purpose that this dish has helped to place Spain on the map.

this dish, whether you realize it or not, has the power to attract people, to draw more attention, and to alter your perspective on Spain.

TO SUM UP:

The basic goal of gastro diplomacy is to win people's hearts and minds through their stomachs, and paella has done just that. This dish has a distinct flavor profile that shouts Spain with each and every bite. Paella was a symbol of Spain and Spanish culture. It draws people together from different aspects of life. This is a dish that should be shared and enjoyed. It's comforting, and for me, this meal is like a big warm hug that keeps you coming back for more, and I believe it's an excellent tool for Spain's public diplomacy, particularly gastro diplomacy. People will constantly return to this dish, remembering that Spain is only a mouthful away. I'm no expert on Spanish cuisine, but this is without a doubt one of the best Spanish dishes in the world, and it perfectly represents Spanish cuisine around the world.




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