There are many sites to see in Barcelona, but one of my favorite things that I did while studying abroad was taking a cooking class.
Some girls that I met from my classes and I decided that for our last week we should learn how to make the food that we had been eating for the past 8 weeks, so we found a cooking class, signed up and spent the night before finals learning how to make paella.
Paella and tapas became weekly staples for me and I wanted to learn how to make them so that I could bring some of Barcelona home with me to Arizona. We met the chef and the rest of the people taking the cooking class early in the evening and the chef took us straight to La Boqueria. It was nice being able to see how he picked out the ingredients and it was fun being a part of the process from beginning to end. The only sad part is that I knew I wouldn’t be able to get ingredients that fresh once I got home, but my local grocery store will just have to do.
We picked up all the ingredients we needed to make the paella: salmon, calamari, prawns, mussels, red and yellow onions, broccoli, red peppers and zucchini.
After we gathered the ingredients we headed to the kitchen space and began making tapas, which is the easiest part. We rubbed tomato on slices of bread and then topped it with olive oil and jamón. We also had patatas bravas, cheese, strawberries and cherries as an appetizer.
Next, we headed to the kitchen. I was put to work chopping veggies and deheading, despining, and gutting the squid.
We learned step by step how to make the paella:
1. Coat pan in olive oil and add onions and garlic.
2. Add in the peppers and zucchini, then toss in a few prawn heads.
3. Add the calamari and tomato paste.
4. Add all the spices: paprika, salt, black pepper, turmeric, cloves, thyme, saffron and nutmeg.
5. Mix everything and add white wine and bay leaves.
6. Put in the mussels and clams. Add the shrimp last.
7. Add fish stock and peas.
8. Place the salmon scales down and push them into the pan.
9. Add the white fish and push down.
10. Pour in water and add asparagus and small lobsters (if desired).
Lastly you add the rice (one handful for each person you are serving) and then you let it all sit, but do not mix it. You can continually cover it in liquid such as the white wine and olive oil. Once it’s done you can add fresh parsley and lemon wedges. There really was no measuring throughout the process. Add how much you want, more or less depending on the number of people you are feeding.
The Paella turned out great and it was fun to sit around with other strangers that had taken the class and share the food that we all helped make. The cooking class was one of my favorite things that I did abroad and I suggest that everyone learn how to cook at least one popular dish from wherever you are studying.
Preparing the ingredients and cooking the paella is a long process, but it was so worth it and I can’t wait to make it for my friends and family back home!