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The Psychology of Paella

Le rituel de la Paella - Azulero de la Casa de Valencia en MadridIn Valencia, the ritual of paella preparation in the open air, has been carried out for more than three centuries by men and it continues from father to son over all generations of Valencians.

The psychology of paella

Whoever wants to cook a special dish for a special day often decides to make a paella.
And in all parts of Spain and southern France, Narbonne, Béziers, from North to Nîmes but also West to Toulouse, or East to Marseille, are often the men who decide to start cooking. a paella in the open air.
Behind these facts, there are several psychological factors that come into play.

The symbols of the paella

  1. The Fire
    La bible de la paella paella au feu de boisThe ancestral rite of fire is an integral part of the preparation of the paella.
    This is the mythical and magical component that pushes Man to officiate the ceremony, with all the Baroque rituals that accompany it. The fire, with all its ambivalent symbols, represents the purification and the punishment, the power and the lightness of the impalpable, the attraction and the repulsion.
    As for the purifying ceremony, the man integrates these four basic elements:
    Fire, earth, water & air.
    Fire is based on the earth, which has given all these foods, it is the physical element which causes boiling by cooking water, and the air which fires the fire condenses the water vapor which, while cooling, return to the open container in the open air 
  2. The Group
    Cooking a paella is a social act that takes place outdoors with friends.
    The preparation is long, cooking too. And this long cooking time is often shared between men, even if families are not far away.
    This is an opportunity to be accompanied and help by his friends to meet.
    A great moment of sharing often accompanied by wine.
  3. Machism
    Le rituel de la cuisson de la Paella - Azulero de la Casa de Valencia en MadridSocial but mostly masculine. Because it is outside the kitchen and far from any female connotation that it happens.
    The cook wants to demonstrate publicly his ability to make a complicated & baroque dish, for which it is extremely difficult to obtain the optimal point of cooking.
    As a result, if successful, his success is applauded, and he feels the emotion of the artist to the applause of the public.
  4. The abundance
    The constitution of the paella makes that one sees the majority of the ingredients.
    If we add to that the large size of the dish, we are in the symbolism of abundance brought back by the hunter, who returns to feed his clan.
    Especially since rice, which is slowly digested, produces a pleasant sensation of satiety.

All these feelings of physical pleasure & psychological, conscious & unconscious, like the satisfaction of succeeding this dish, this demonstration of strength & control, its flavors, this shared tasting until the digestion between comments, congratulations and jokes around the one who cooked, are an essential part of the reason for the worldwide success of the Valencia paella.

Text inspired by the book of Lourdes March “El libro de la paella y de los arroces”