Valencia, on Spain’s east coast on the Med, and its surrounding fertile farmland, is Spain’s breadbasket. All of the foods above, introduced by the Moors, are grown here. The locals grow Bomba, the best rice for Paella. Spain’s national dish began here as a filling midday meal for farm workers who were growing rice, tomatoes and saffron. Surprisingly, especially for a seaside city, the classic Paella from Valencia includes rabbit, chicken, two or three types of fresh, local beans, and snails or a sprig of rosemary. No seafood, no chorizo!
It’s all about the rice and getting as much flavour into that little grain as possible. Don’t stir it, the rice is meant to be dry, not creamy. And a little browning on the bottom is nice, like a gratin in reverse.
Here is a link to a recipe for a classic Paella Valenciana:
And hey! If you’re going to be in Valencia on August 28, 2019, consider swinging by La Tomatina, the festival celebrating the tomato harvest with all the merriment of a giant tomato food fight. And yes, you have to pay to do this. To tour companies with names like “rad season” and “stoke travel.” Go for it!
I’ll be at the Mercado Central instead, where the parrot weather vane reminds you that if you want to catch up with the latest gossip, you should visit the central market!
Agua Valencia is the local heady concoction of locally made orange liqueur and cava, which had to be sampled. Absolutely delicious, but would definitely lower your resolve if you went shopping afterward.
Our hotel is centrally located and directly across a lane from this wonderful Rococo building, formerly the mansion of the Marquis and Marquessa Martí, which houses a ceramics museum.
The ceramics collection was well-organized chronologically with ceramics from the 10th century to the present, including a small collection of Picasso pieces.
Even more spectacular were the carriages and living quarters of the Marquis and Marquessa. The kitchen had a colourful backsplash; there were walls covered with embroidered silk and the rooms were undeniably Rococo, that over-the-top period of the late Baroque.
Another unexpected feature of Valencia was the importance of the silk trade. The local park was filled with mulberry trees and there was a museum we didn’t have time to visit. We did visit the site of the medieval silk market and maritime courtroom.
Each March 19 in Valencia, Las Fallas (“the fires”) Festival is held and all the women, men and children dress in the classic medieval “silk suits” and parade through the city. Then, the burning of the ninots” – nearly 400 fireworks are lit and everyone in the city burns about 800 papier-mâché figurines, all with firefighters standing at the ready. The festival lasts for several days and is taken very seriously by the Valencians.
This generates a significant silk industry even today. A more fulsome description of the festival is here:
There is much more to see and do in this lovely city on the eastern shore of the peninsula. For now, we head to Barcelona.