The title of the article has been lent to me without asking by Pau Arenós. It is what friendship has built over forty years and one day. One day is for the penance of having had a guy like me as a friend, so given to traveling from everything to nothing, and from nothing to everything at supersonic speed.
I have not asked Pau what he thinks of the news published in this medium by Yaiza Saiz, I repeat, news that is not an opinion, in which an expert in pleasant nutrition assures that Valencian paella is of Basque origin. And when the news was published, the reader's response was stupefied and, in some cases, hostile towards the journalist.
And I notice that the best Valencian paella I have eaten in my house and prepared by Pau Arenós, a villarrealense with eight paellero surnames, on a wood pyre erected by the man who writes this article.
All this mess about the origin of paella, declared an Asset of Intangible Cultural Interest, has been unleashed by Alberto Fernández Bombín in The program of Ana Rosa and her mini me, Patricia Pardo. The presenter of the program To eat you better said, without fear of being turned into chopped meat for rice, that the most Valencian dish in the world was born in the Basque Country.
With the box of thunder open, an endless number of theories have appeared that try to demonstrate, even, the origin of the word paella. Experts say that the word paella comes from patella, which is what the Romans of the Empire called the pan. The Italians call the pan padella and it must be for a reason.
If we looked for the origin of all the dishes, a civil war would break out and, many times, it is better to stick with the obvious. If I were in the Basque Country I would go blind with cod in pil pil and not with paella. And I would be able to travel on foot to Valencia to enjoy a paella caressed by the breeze on the Playa de la Malvarrosa.
The dishes that are part of popular memory are not touched, despite the fact that they have been built over the centuries with the arrival of new products from distant territories and the good hand of mothers and grandmothers. But once they have settled in our brain and become the watchword of the history of our lives, any alteration in our taste psychology can be irreparable.
We must remember the scandal that caused Jamie Oliver, the most brilliant of gastronomic communicators, to add a few pieces of chorizo to a Valencian paella. A blasphemy or a theft to memory, although, I think, he was never aware of the riot unleashed by the conversion of Valencian paella into rice, let's say, Rioja style.
Traditional dishes are traditional because they stop in time. Then there are the interpretations that make cutting edge chefs of them and all so happy and open to other culinary dawns.
If the paella has its origin in the Basque Country I have no idea. The Genoese Christopher Columbus died in Valladolid in 1506, and some scholars deny his Ligurian origin. There are theories about its Portuguese, Galician, Mallorcan, Catalan, Valencian or Castilian origin, although the important thing about all this mess is that the Genoese and Italians don't give a damn, a product that, by the way, is not used in the traditional recipe of the Valencian paella.