Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Biggest Paella in Guangzhou

Okay, first of all it is pronounced PA-AE-YAH… Not PA-EH-LAH or PAH-EH-JAH. The drunker some people get the harder it seems for them to pronounce this word. Paella is basically Spanish rice. Numerous cultures have their own special way of making mixed rice. The Indians have Biryani, the Ghanaians have Jellof, and the Indons have Nasi Goreng. Paella is the Spanish equivalent. I do not know exactly what spices go into the rice but typically it is loaded with seafood of all varieties and some vegetables. It is cooked for a long period of time in a very large skillet. In Spain they only serve Paella for 2 so when I travelled alone around that region I did not get to sample it much. Last weekend we ventured out to Shamian Island in Guangzhou where we heard the Spanish community here was going to cook the largest paella Canton had ever seen. They are notorious for doing these sorts of things and if the largest paella in South China is not blogworthy then I don’t know what is. I was not really expecting too much in terms of a crowd considering it was Sunday and we were really late, it was almost 4pm already. But there was a pretty large crowd of people gathered at the Rose Garden. They were mostly Spanish but there were a bunch of locals hanging about too.

The scene was really well planned out with tables and chairs spread out across the river side. It turns out that this event was planned and hosted by the Spanish consulate. And as far as I could tell it was a free for all. No one asked for invites and they even had free flow beers! That’s right, cartons and cartons of imported Spanish beer that is not even available on the local market. This MAHOU beer is a product of the San Miguel brewery but it had an exceptional and unique flavor that I will venture to say was, grainy. I loved it.

But what I was there to see was the Paella. The Biggest Paella in Guangzhou! And what I saw instead was 3 really big paellas. Or I should say 3 really big and empty paella skillets. These guys actually flew down 3 chefs from Spain to make the paellas and they flew down bags of Spanish rice and spices, which I saw lying empty on the ground. And although I was imaging 1 really big paella that people could swim in, I must admit that the dishes were pretty large and might actually have been the largest paellas in Guangzhou… That day.

Fortunately there was some paella left in the last skillet that the stragglers were left to sample. Apparently they made 3 different types of paella, a seafood, vegetarian, and meat. We were left to try the meat one and I will say that it was off the hook. The Spanish chicks were complaining that it was not authentic but I say you cant always get what you want, but if you try some time you just might find you get what you need. Okay, I didn’t say that, Mick did, but I concur.

All in all another great day in the GZ. Nothing beats getting pissed outdoors in this weather.

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