The Pursuit of Paella: A Weekend in Valencia

Rachel Thompson
January 28, 2014

Take a walk around Barcelona and you’ll find photos of paella outside open-doored restaurants. But the traditional rice dish has its roots in Valencia, a town three hours by train to the south. Inspired by tidbits of information I’d read and photos I’d seen on the internet, I decided Valencia was worth a visit, if only to taste the very best paella in the world.

A group of us booked train tickets and a hostel for a weekend in Valencia. Upon arriving and unpacking our things, we headed to La Riua, a restaurant one woman described as “where the Valencians go to eat.” Six of us ordered Paella Valenciana, the city’s signature dish of chicken, rabbit and vegetables tossed in yellow rice.

After a few glasses of sangria, the waiter emerged from the kitchen with a massive, table-sized pan of paella, and we each scooped some onto our plates. Despite being a little apprehensive about the rabbit, we devoured the dish and soon found ourselves with an empty pan. It was rich, filling and delicious. We left with full bellies and a “muchas gracias” to the hospitable staff for exceeding our expectations.

Valencia had much more than paella to offer. We spent our two days admiring the city’s unique architecture, exploring the town squares, tasting Valencian oranges, the city’s other famous food, and walking in the sunshine. We even saw a group of dancers in traditional costume twirling and clapping outside the steps of the cathedral as the bells chimed for Sunday mass.

But I’ll always remember Valencia by the seemingly endless dish of paella that was still somehow gone too quickly.

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Rachel Thompson

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hi there! I&#39;m a California native studying journalism in one of the coolest cities in the world, at The University of Texas at Austin. I&#39;m a fan of chocolate, watching sports (go Giants), nice people, anything vintage and pretty much all music. I write as much as I can, whether it&#39;s a news article, a blog, or just a journal entry. When I&#39;m not writing, I love to run, try new recipes in my little kitchen, take dance classes and catch up with friends. My goal is to see every continent someday. I&#39;m getting there!</span></p>

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