A while back I wrote an article on how traditional Spanish food was being converted into culinary atrocities for the British palate by restaurants, market stalls and fresh food supermarkets, something that I have never understood. Millions of Brits travel to Spain every year and enjoy the local cuisine. Whatever makes one think that they can improve on a recipe that has been tried and tested over centuries. I am all for creating new recipes but don’t give it a traditional name like Paella and make people think they are eating Spanish food.
Anyway, It was only recently that I came across one of the most disappointing cooking videos I think I have ever seen, well that’s not entirely true, because I saw another one shortly after and that was just as bad and embarrassing. I am referring to a video recipe by Gordon Ramsey, who needs no presentation (believe it or not I am a fan, hence the disappointment), and another one by John Torode, who is a celebrity chef restaurateur and host of UK Master Chef.
Both, highly acclaimed chefs decided to ‘teach’ us how to make Paella. Now I am not sure I have ever seen a recipe so far from the original or cooking techniques that can only destroy the end result. As far as Spanish ‘culinary religion’ is concerned this was outright blasphemy and a one way ticket to hell.
We all play around with international recipes at home and do horrible things to wonderful dishes, mainly because we don’t have the time or all the necessary ingredients at hand to reproduce the authentic dish, and that’s fine, be creative and enjoy yourself in the kitchen. That’s what cooking is all about; enjoying food.
But when a chef with 14 Michelin stars, numerous TV programmes and influences millions of homes worldwide decides to teach an Englishwomen how to make Paella, one would be led to believe that he knows what he’s doing. That is certainly what he appears to believe in his video.
Well, as a Brit living in Valencia: the home of the Paella, I can assure you it made me cringe! It was truly a Kitchen Nightmare! His choice of ingredients showed no respect for the dish at all and totally undermined his knowledge of ingredients and flavours. I wrote about it before and I’ll repeat it again, what is it with chorizo?!! Why does everyone put chorizo into everything?! What is wrong with you Gordon? Since when can you mix chorizo with shrimps … chicken with squid…and then ‘jazz it all up’ with chilli and sherry in a wok with wet rice and call it paella? Are you serious? ...Obviously you are, otherwise you wouldn’t have posted such a video.
But I can’t for one minute believe that a professional chef like Gordon Ramsey doesn’t know the authentic recipe, so how can you have the audacity to call it Paella? Call it ‘Mediterranean Rice’ or ‘Rice with Stuff-in-it’ I don’t care, but don’t call it Paella - PLEASE!
Gordon Ramsey, please let me humbly give you one piece of advice when it comes to cooking rice for paella…if you need a ladle to serve it you know straight away that you have seriously cocked it up.
There are many professionals that are fighting on a daily basis to preserve and maintain the traditional recipe and promote Spanish cuisine to the rest of the world and then ‘celebrity chefs’ like Ramsey and Torode completely destroy it. Here is the video of Ramsey’s paella and a link to my article on Paella and how to make the real deal , as I was fed up of people mutilating the authentic recipe. Please decide for yourself...
Now if that wasn’t enough, John Torode figures he can completely re-invent the wheel when it comes to cooking paella by cooking the rice in one pan and the seafood in another! Incredible, I have never seen anything like that before. Obviously the seafood magically flavours the rice when they are mixed on the plate and wins the battle against the overpowering turmeric (which is about as Spanish as a poppadum). Must learn that trick!
Torode, the Master Chef host in his video wants to explain the secret to ‘great rice’. Are you kidding me?
But in all fairness, Torode should be credited for using more or less the right ingredients for seafood paella, except for; the turmeric, the cod, the black pepper, the broad beans and the runner beans… But the funniest thing is that he prepares all the ingredients separately in different pans and then unites them victoriously in a proper paella pan for serving. Why don’t you just prepare it all together in one paella pan.....? You clearly have one.
“This my friends is what you call Paella” were the words that just rang in my head after watching the video.
This is what people, who have no idea, will naively think is how paella is made and what it should be. After all who wouldn’t trust the host of Master Chef. If you would like to taste wet mushy curried rice with a topping of seafood and fish, I suggest you watch the following video. But please don’t call it Paella...
There are many more videos out there by Celebrity chefs making Gazpazcho, Spanish Omelette and what have you, which are all sacrilege. So I will make a plead to all celebrity chefs attempting to teach the world Spanish recipes. Please teach the world the real recipes or at least say that this is ‘your take’ on a Spanish recipe so not to mislead the world and discredit Spanish culinary traditions. If you really think you know how to make real Paella I challenge you to come to Valencia and be put to the test by the locals, and if you don't know, I challenge you to come and be taught by the Pros and then share with the world this wonderful dish....properly.