al carrer, Bou per la vila
is one of the oldest Spanish traditions, maybe one of the most known abroad, and
for sure the most polemic one.
the "bou al carrer" or "bou per la vila", typical from the Valencian
region, is very different from the worldwide known "Corridas de Toros". The
first big difference is that, as the name says, the "bou al carrer" -bull
in the street- happens within a certain area of the old village -"vila"-,
which streets are closed with special barriers to avoid the bull to get out
of it. The second difference is that in this "bou al carrer", there is
no "torero" nor "matador" fighting versus the bull. All people
that wants to run in front -or after- the bull is free to do it, under its own
responsability. The first historical reference to "bou al carrer" in
Vila-real is dated 1375, although it was limited to the main square "plaça
de la Vila".
"bou embolat" is a variation of the "bou al carrer", although
much more recent (seems to start last century). It was then quite difficult to
have a bull running along the streets at night, due to the poor ilumination before
electricity became something so normal as it is today. Therefore, the solution
was to install a special metal device on the bull's head to support two fire balls
that iluminated the street, warning people about the bull's presence. Today, this
light source is not needed anymore, but tradition continues this way.
the same bull or bulls that were runned during the day are "balled" at night.
At the end of the run -two hours or so- the bull is sacrified by a professional
butcher and the meat sold, after passing all the correct sanitary controls.
Pascual's "string"The Mothers
Clarisas manufacture a small string which Saint
Pascual Baylon devots wear around wrists and ankles. These strings are passed
on the Saint sepulchre once they are finished, being what gives them its special
value for believing persons. However, today these small cords, which are exported
to other countries, are made due to the demand even with the colours of football
from Discover Spain with the Tourist Office
is one dish that represents our area, throughout the Community of Valencia,
then that is rice. Rice dishes come in a great many different varieties, ranging
from the universally known Valencian paella to "arroz abanda".
which in fact is two dishes, really constitutes a complete meal. On the one
hand it is a kind of special paella, in which the broth which forms its base
is produced from all kinds of fish. The latter appears in another dish but not
with the rice itself. The most typical fish used is a good sized sea bass, although
there are many other similar kinds that are also possible. This is then served
with potatoes and a special sauce known as all-i-oli (garlic and olive oil)
which complements the rice dish. It is not a meal for the fainthearted.
rice dishes include Valencian paella, with chicken, rabbit and plenty of green
vegetables (and optionally some white snails known locally as "baquetes"); arroz
al horno (baked rice) with blood sausage and pieces of pork; and "Empedrat".
Rice goes well with practically everything, and "Empedrat" is a rice dish with
cod and beans which is enough to make anyone's mouth water.
offer a wide choice of rice dishes, as well as most national and international
dishes. Then there are also the tapas (hors d'oeuvres) on offer in bars and
the like. Eating on basis of small quantities of a variety of foods is easy,
quick and convenient. These tapas might well take the form of fried fish, grilled
cuttlefish, squid a la romana (fried in egg and flour), blood sausage, prawns
in garlic, grilled sardines, steamed mussels or perhaps in a sauce, snails,
Spanish potato omelette, kidneys, monkfish, cod croquettes, meatballs, tripe,
pig's trotters, fried anchovies or in vinegar. This list includes just some
of the snacks available at may bars that can help to put one on until the next
Mother of All Paellas: Valencian Paella
original by Jose Martinez from US, to whom we agree 99% in the recipe. Photos added by ourselves.
paella is perhaps one of the most controversial courses made in Spain. Original
from Valencia (as you may have already guessed!), it has traditionally been
a must for most of its population's diet. As far as I recall, my family has
eaten paella every single Sunday. I still remember my mother trying and cooking
some alternative courses, and the rest of us (especially my father) showing
a mix of anger and unpleasant resignation in our faces, evident enough to let
her know what that was about.
It is supposed
to be made following a rather strict procedure, yet there are many paella-like
rice recipes all across Spain that have little to do with our understanding
of it, and that in many cases make us jump when we see such inventions being
served to some unaware pink-toasted tourist.
recipe has been the source of many bitter discussions, believe it or not. In
one occasion, we even brought a case to the Valencian Parliament, about whether
we should use bell peppers or not in it.
there are two basic flavours of paella, meat or fish, many of us think that
the real, real one is the former. The meat used for it is either chicken, or
rabbit, or both. For those not very keen on strong meat flavours, I recommend
chicken. Rabbit is delicious, but it may be difficult to obtain in some countries, anyway.
Here are the ingredients, or their substitutes had I not been able to locate
the exact element:
opinions, I shall say that paella is a no-garlic, no-onion, no-pea, no-snail,
no-bell-pepper, no-mussel course.
oil. Don't try using any other. The scent of chicken being fried in olive
oil is the smell we have engraved in our deepest recalls. It does make a difference.
Plain Beans (Garrofo) (5-6/person). Similar to these are Lima beans. Garrofó is a term for a vegetable typically
grown in Valencia.
beans (5-6/person). The ideal are the flat ones, better without those
annoying threads. They are not as available as roundish green beans in some countries, and those will work well, so do not bother shopping around.
I usually use those canned whole peeled tomatoes, which are pretty little.
Use 1 every two people.
bell-pepper powder. The most similar thing in some countries is paprika.
Be sure that the one you buy is not hot. For the Spanish speakers, this is
the closest translation I found to what we call pimentón dulce.
If you can afford it, it is said to be the key ingredient! However, I have
eaten paella with no saffron 99% of the times. We usually use colour, an orange
powder that turns into yellow when diluted in water (beware of the stains!)
I wouldn't be able to tell you how it is called in English. The paella has
to be yellow-like, rather than white.
(at your discretion)
rice (125gr.=100cc/person) (medium-size grain will work, too.) Do not
use long-size grain, cooking times are different, and we don't use it in Valencia.
A key thing
is the recipient in which you are going to cook. ("paella" in Valencian means
pan). Generally speaking, the shallower the better. Thick
rice cookings are difficult to manage and the rice is not steamed homogeneously,
so try and use a container such that your paella does not grow beyond 7-8cm
height. My experience tells me that a big pan is fine for 3 people. I have never
dared with 4, but you may want to give it a try; in that case I usually cook
two paellas in parallel (which in turn impresses my guests!).
to put the Lima beans into water overnight, don't forget it. If you do, you
can still boil them twenty minutes before beginning to cook, but they will not
have such a nice aspect.
olive oil to medium-high temperature,so it barely covers the bottom of the
pan. Excess of oil makes the course pretty heavy. The best adviser is experience.
Usually olive oil spreads as it warms up, so be conservative.
chicken, try and remove as much fat as possible, but unless you really dislike
it, leave the skin: it gives a nice flavour to the course. Salt and start
frying the chicken.
wash the vegetables and split all green beans. Dice the tomatoes into tiny pieces:
you should not see any tomato chunk in a paella serving. Salt the vegetables
and turn the chicken over.
a recipient with fresh water. The rule here varies very much depending on cooking
styles. I usually reserve 300cc of water per person.
chicken has turned into a golden colour, take the pan half way out of the range
and put the chicken in the cold side. It doesn't really matter if you don't
do it, but it eases the roasting of the vegetables. In Valencia we use really
wide containers, and the oil is in the centre, so we move the chicken to the
periphery and continue in the middle with the vegetables.
the green beans and the Lima beans in the oil and fry them for four or five
minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the paprika and stir again. Fry for
20-30 seconds and then add the tomato. If you fry the paprika for too
long you will ruin it. The water the tomato contains will cool down the oil
enough to stop the process. Stir for a minute, then put the pan back in its
original position and mix everything. Then add the water.
Use a wooden
stick to touch the bottom of the pan and measure the height of the water. You
will need it later. In Valencia we don't need such a stick, since our pans have
nails on the inside that indicate where the water is supposed to reach (there
are different pan sizes for different amount of guests).
boil for twenty minutes. Then take the pan out of the range (but don't turn
it off). Add water until you get back to the same height: use the wooden stick
for this delicate operation. Then put it back to the range. Add salt and let
as it starts boiling, use a spoon to taste the water. It is important to take
the water from the bubbles: it's the only part of the water's surface with no
oil. Taste for salt. Add if necessary. Don't be slow in this, you want to add
the rice before too much water evaporates. Then add the saffron.
add the rice, 100cc per person. If you want to add more, my rule of thumb
is: always 3 times the amount of rice in water. Remember, however, that you
want to keep it shallow, 7-8cm. Many others use twice as much water as rice
instead, but then times are different. I shall trust my granny on this.
pan slightly to spread the rice, and let the water boil again. Boil
for ten minutes, and then lower the temperature of the range, and let it
boil for another ten minutes.
in this crucial process is the best adviser. Ranges behave differently, waters
have different compositions, so you might want to play a little by shifting
that lower-temperature time point to sooner or later. The total time cooking
the rice, however, should still be twenty minutes. In my particular case, 8-12
gives good results. We will call it the switching point.
the rice is being cooked at its final stage, and when you have no longer a water
layer covering the rice, put a couple pieces of rosemary on top of the rice.
The steam coming out will activate the scent of the rosemary, which will bathe
the paella. Typically this happens in the last five minutes.
are an excellent chef, that paella is almost ready: simply take it out
of the range and cover it for a couple minutes to concentrate the rosemary scent
and maybe soften those last rebel rice grains. However, it is not rare to find
that the rice is a little undercooked. Knowing that next time you will have
to shift the switching point slightly backwards, this time simply lower the
temperature again and cover. The rice loses a little bit of presence, but it
will still be delicious.
many people like to squeeze some lemon over their course. I personally love
it, and it is especially advisable when you have used no rosemary.
you enjoy this fantastic piece of Valencia's culture. Your comments will be appreciated.
sport (Valencian ball) is played since really old times. It has several
variations, but for you to understand it, it is something like tennis played with
the hands, using a much harder ball, and on the street or in a special field called
"trinquet". Assistants to the games normally bet for one or the other player.
There is a league in which teams from all over the Valencian Community play.