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 Oct 18 2022

Día de la Hispanidad - Celebrating Spain's national day with some paella

The Spanish national holiday has its origins in the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the "New World" on October 12th, 1492. Columbus landed on this day with his three ships Santa Maria, Niña and Pinta on an island in what is now the Bahamas.

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However, it took until the beginning of the 20th century before people began to honor this historic day in Spain. It was first celebrated in 1914 under the name Fiesta de la Raza ("Festival of the Race"). It was proclaimed the official Spanish national day (Fiesta Nacional de España) by King Alfonso XIII in 1918. 

At almost the same time, Spanish culinary culture was also developing considerably. One dish that emerged at this time was the paella.

The paella appeared between the 15th and 16th centuries in the countryside of Valencia. A simple meal to prepare for the farmers and shepherds of the region.

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Whether the "seafood paella" originated at the same time as the "field paella" is still not known. In addition to the seafood, there are numerous delicious ingredients that allow this particular dish to flourish.

In its origins, paella consisted of poultry, rabbit, various vegetables, special rice, saffron and olive oil. Paella was cooked in a large pan on an open fire, which was lit from orange twigs that created the characteristic taste and smell of the dish.

In Levante, a story is told about the War of Independence. It is about a French general, a woman and a paella that she cooked for the French general. The French general was so torn by the paella that he and the woman made a deal: for each new plate of paella, the general would release a Spanish prisoner. The woman used her imagination and her great ability to improvise and cooked a different paella every day. It is said that in this way 176 prisoners were released.

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Story by Joint Support and Enabling Command

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