Learning how to make Paella in Barcelona, Spain
Minh loooves Paella and it’s hard to find back home and all our attempts to make it at home have been a failure, so after researching online, we found an EatWith cooking class with Marta to learn how to make Paella.
The class is held in her home and there were about 12 total students. Minh and I show up right on time, which apparently makes us late, because we were the last ones to arrive and she was about to start!
Once we sat down, Marta began her class and I think I recognize the couple sitting across the room from us. I tried to discreetly mention it to Minh but he just kept saying “huh? what?” and I gave up trying to repeat myself without interrupting the class.
Paella is originally from the Valencia area which traditionally uses rabbit as the main protein source. Over time, and as it made its way down through Spain, people started adding seafood and other meat to it. Nowadays, most people associate Paella with seafood or the mixta version (seafood and meat), as those have become the most popular versions.
Marta went on to explain the basics of Paella making including the giant Paella pans you can pick up at basically any market or hardware store. The most important, though, and the reason why all our previous attempts at making Paella have been a failure, is the type of rice used. In order to make a good paella, you need to use Bomba rice. This type of rice absorbs 3x the amount of liquid regular rice does, which makes the rice so tasty.
Next, Marta has each of us partake in a small task of prepping the paella. Simple tasks like chopping up onions, peeling tomatoes, etc.
During this time we get the opportunity to speak to the couple across from us, in which we find out that they are on a Round The World trip too! They’re Johanna and Angelo from Turtle Home Travels!
Our conversation went something like this:
Johanna: “Are you visiting Barcelona for your honeymoon?”
Me: “Um, are you guys on a Round The World trip?”
Me: “Yea, we are too, are you Turtle Home Travels?”
Johanna: “Omigosh, yes! What’s your handle?”
Me: “Two Peas in a Plane”
Johanna: “Omigosh, I know you guys too!”
Me and Johanna are super excited and surprised to have met another RTW couple and want to keep chatting more but put our conversation on hold to continue class.
Now that we have all the ingredients prepped, it’s time for us to cook the Paella! We head out to the patio that overlooks the city to finish cooking up the Paella.
I volunteered to help pass all the ingredients to Marta to make the Paella and Minh seemed to be really awestruck during the cooking process and I had to keep reminding him to take photos.
While cooking each component, Marta explained what to look for to make sure each item was cooked perfectly.
The smell was so intoxicatingly delicious by this point and everyone was getting super hungry!
The final step after cooking all the components is adding the fish broth that holds all the yummy seafood flavor!
Once the liquid was fully absorbed into the rice, we added the remaining pretty toppings and let it cool…
The finished product, ready to be served! Buen apetito!
Now that we finally get to eat our delicious meal, we also get a chance to sit down and chat with our new RTW friends! Johanna and Angelo have their friends, Andrew and Greg, visiting from back home taking the class with them. They’re all from the Orange County area too, so we all hit it off instantly!
Johanna and Angelo have been on the road for 10 months at this point. Johanna is really excited for us and says she feels like they’re seniors about to graduate and we’re freshman (being only 3 months in at this point).
We swap travel stories with each other and before we know it, Marta is ushering everyone out of her house because she’s been receiving complaints from her neighbors about her classes running too late and causing too much noise.
The six of us are the last ones left and she rushes us out. We hurriedly guzzle down all of our wine and instead of waiting for the elevator, she tells us to take the stairs. The six of us go down 7 dizzying flights of narrow stairs after having just downed a bunch of wine. We all emerge from her apartment building laughing and realizing that Marta basically just kicked us out of her place!
Marta’s Paella class was a great experience and it was more instructional than actual cooking, which we didn’t really mind. She later sent us a digital copy of the recipe and we’ve actually attempted to make Paella while on the road, and it turned out much better than our past attempts (we still don’t have the right rice yet!). I’m sure once we get home we’ll be able to make it with all the right ingredients and host some Paella parties! If you’re headed to Barcelona and want to learn how to make Paella, (and possibly meet some other cool travelers too), I would highly recommend taking Marta’s class!