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Which is the authentic Spanish paella?

Written by Adriana

The first thing that many of my foreign friends ask me when they come to Barcelona is where can they eat authentic and affordable paella. The truth is that there are several options if you want to enjoy a good paella, as we mentioned in one of our articles before, but the second question is: which is the “real” paella that every tourist should try and that is a reference for all the varieties of paella? The answer is doubtful: a Valencian person will tell you that the Valencian paella, with meat and various vegetables, is the “real” one; a person from Barcelona, probably will tell you that the seafood paella with prawns, mussels, octopus or cuttlefish is the “good paella”; even some will tell you that the real one includes a mixture of the two varieties.

The truth is that for me, that I’m from Barcelona, there is no authentic paella, it depends on your preferences and the ingredients you have at home if you’re going to cook it yourself. If you order paella in a restaurant you have to choose the one with the ingredients that you like the most or that one that suits your budget, as the seafood paella will always be more expensive than meat and vegetable one. You can even opt for an “arroz negro” (black rice) if its appearance doesn’t disgust you, as it’s delicious.

La Paella de Marisco (seafood paella)

This variety is very colorful as includes all kinds of seafood: mussels, cuttlefish, grouper, prawns, shrimps, etc., mixed with the yellow rice tone given by the saffron or by the coloring. If you don’t eat meat, seafood paella will be more attractive to you, and if you are in a coastal town in Catalonia, the seafood is fresh and delicious, so you should take the opportunity to try this variety.

Related article: Popular dishes in Barcelona

The Valencian Paella

a6548b5671f4c61fe3d3c9442b7a50a1This variety of paella is, for many, the real one and includes, among its ingredients, chicken, rabbit, green beans, “garrofones”, artichoke, white beans and tomato, apart from rice, of course. If you’re more carnivore, you like the mix of flavors that emerges from these ingredients and don’t want to spend so much money on trying a traditional Spanish dish, this paella is perhaps the best choice for you.

The sea and mountain Paella or “mixta”

This variety incorporates ingredients, as its name suggests, coming from both the sea and the mountain: chicken, pork, shrimp, mussels, green beans, “garrofones”, sepia, red pepper, onion, etc. For some this mix is nothing real and is rather an insult to the “authentic paella” but is an option if you want to find in this dish all the flavor of the meat without missing the best seafood in Barcelona.

ShBarcelona suggests you try all varieties of paella or even learn how to cook it at home to adapt this dish to your own tastes and don’t have to order it at a restaurant.

About the author


Adriana is a writer, content & community manager, web designer, media analyst and tireless traveler.

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