Go to virtually any Chinese restaurant in Waterloo Region, and…
It’s a classic and absolutely delicious Spanish dish, and one with no few variations and permutations: paella. It’s wonderful.
Essentially a Valencian specialty and one, it is thought, that is of Moorish origin, paella is cooked in a pan called a paellera, a very large, shallow pan with a couple of handles (though some folks of Spanish descent may disagree with the use of the term).
Regardless, it’s a terrific rice and seafood feast that works well as a communal sharing platter. Paella also has a bit of food activism around it: Sollana and Bomba are the best rices for paella, but they’re hard to find.
The Bomba variety, particularly, apparently having been rescued from virtual near-extinction by Spanish chefs and farmers, grows in the Calasparra region where the right conditions mingle and several rivers flow to produce these excellent rice varieties that are controlled denominations grown for quality and not quantity. Calasparra produces only something like a half-percent of all Spanish rice but its absorptive ability suits it perfectly for paella and arroz caldoso, a sort of rice soup.
You can get paella at King Street Trio in downtown Waterloo: saffron-infused rice with mussels, black tiger shrimp, calamari strips, chorizo sausage, black olives, sweet peas and sofrito ($28).
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