Eat Local: Paella, Orxata, y Fartons

Nicole Davis is a student at Xavier University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Valencia, Spain.

Everyone’s favorite part of experiencing another culture is definitely the food. Valencia, Spain is where paella (pa-Ā-yah) and orxata (or-CHA-ta) with fartons (far-TŌNES) were created. Valencia’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, preservation of ancient structures, and addition of modern architecture has paved a way for food to reign supreme.

Paella Valenciana
Paella Valenciana

Most people have heard of paella, but not many know that it originated in Valencia.  There are different types of paellas, but most have the same base ingredients.  The main ingredient is rice, but the meats, vegetables, and seasonings can vary depending on the region.  Its name comes from the cooking pan itself, called paella, and is best prepared under an open fire.  Paella Valenciana is made with rice, chicken, rabbit, green beans, tomatoes, and seasoned with saffron and rosemary.  Those ingredients alone are enough to make your mouth water.  Paella vegetariana is a vegetarian version with rice and vegetables such as beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, artichoke, peas, and garlic.  Paella de mariscos is a seafood variety, which is very popular in Valencia due to its location near the sea.  This dish can include any seafood, but the most popular are shrimp, fish, calamari, and occasionally mussel or lobster paella with rice, vegetables, saffron and rosemary. To prepare paella, first cook the meat or fish with oil and seasoning.  Then add vegetables and rice, followed by more seasoning and water or broth.  Once it is cooked, serve and enjoy.

La barraca de Toni Montoliu, Valencia, Spain
La Barraca de Toni Montoliu, Valencia, Spain

La Barraca de Toni Montoliu is a must see in Valencia.  Located a few metro stops outside of the city, Toni’s family’s home and farm doubles as a restaurant with the country’s best, most authentic, flavorful paella.  If you don’t believe me, check out TripAdvisor or any Spanish food magazine.  He has hosted thousands of people over the last few decades, many of them famous.  Toni’s paella Valenciana is the best!

Enjoying a class or orxata for dessert.
Enjoying a glass or orxata and a farton for dessert.

Ok, so enough about entrees; dessert is the best part of the meal, right?  Orxata is a dessert that originated in Valencia and can be found in many cities across Spain.  Orxata (sometimes spelled horchata) is a sweet smoothie-milkshake type of drink.  It is a cold beverage made from tigernuts, water, milk, sugar, and almonds. Orxata can be found in almost all bakeries and popular street corners.  Orxata is best served with fartons, which are a type of croissant meets donut stick that is dipped in the orxata.  This dessert is very delicious and is the perfect ending to any meal.

If you cannot make it to Spain anytime soon, look for recipes for paella and orxata to make at home.  Invite friends and family over for a night of Spanish cuisine!

Hungry for more info. on Valencia? Find out more here!