Now for our next scary challenge… on Sunday 13th September we are taking part in the 55th International Paella Competition in Valencia, Spain.
The actual title of the competition is “55 Concurs Internacional de Paella Valenciana” and it involves around 30-40 of the best paella chefs from all over the world, gathering in the town of Sueca, Valencia, to see who will cook the best traditional Valencian Paella.
The Valencian Paella is the original paella recipe and consist of chicken, rabbit, three types of bean, paprika, saffron, rosemary and snails and it is cooked on an open fire made of orange boughs.
Entry to the competition is by invitation only and I am honoured to have been asked to come back for a second time – having first taken part in the baptism of fire in September 2013.
I use the words “baptism of fire” deliberately because cooking a traditional Valencian paella is no mean feat. It involves quite a bit of skill and judgment- there is quite an art to it.
For a start all the contestants in the competition are given exactly the same ingredients and the same equipment plus a great big pile of orange tree boughs. You are allowed only two hours to cook the paella from scratch over an open fire you build yourself.
The “art” of the competition to cook the best paella is in the cooking process, specifically how you create the stock in the pan as you go.
We have arrived a few days early to acclimatise and prepare ourselves as well as take part in the festivities that surround the competition. The competition is one of the highlights of Sueca’s annual Major Festival celebrating the rice harvest.
We are acclimatising because we will be cooking the paella in around 30 degrees of heat and it will be a few degrees hotter over the pan.
I am a little apprehensive at the thought but excited at the same time. I’ll keep you posted on how we get on. Now where’s the Agua de Valencia…