Mrs WDC could only say: ‘Well, the rice is nice’.
Sometimes I think I need a new audience… Perhaps I could cook for the 50 people I sat with, a few years ago, who enjoyed the same seafood paella at 11 am in a café bar in the Boqueria food market in Barcelona.
Wandering through the Boqueria, on holiday with the family, I noticed the cafe’s huge simmering pan of paella. The cafe was extremely popular and filling quickly with customers. Instinctively, I grabbed the only available seat and sat down, ordered and waited to for my paella to arrive. Initially, the family indulged this diversion – possibly curious to witness a genuine holiday event. However, their interest soon waned as I slowly savoured the paella, made mental taste notes, and smiled and nodded encouragingly. I was offered the menu again, but was immediately and unceremoniously dragged from my chair- the family determined to enlist me into exploring other aspects of Catalan life, especially those that didn’t involve food markets or seafood.
Barcelona is indeed full of interesting sights – but for me there’s little point in visiting the city if you cannot sample an authentic paella. This particular paella included large tender cubes of unidentifiable white, meat – delicious but unlike anything I’ve had before. Whilst being accompanied away from café, I managed to lean over the counter and attract the attention of the cook preparing next batch of paella.
‘Que es?’ I asked, pointing at the white cubes.
‘Sepia’, came the reply. Ah, cuttlefish…
Alas, it has taken years to replicate this paella. Not out of fear that my family might not appreciate the memory, but because it seemed impossible to find a cuttlefish in the UK. That is until recently when I found one lurking at the bottom of a local fishmonger’s chest freezer!