The Valencian Government has approved the procedures for the paella to be declared soon as an asset of cultural interest (BIC). It is not a question of consecrating a canonical recipe for the popular dish, the subject of heated discussions between orthodox and heterodox, but rather of recognizing the tradition, the food and the social act that both its preparation and tasting entail. The technical commission for the study and inventory of intangible heritage of the Ministry of Culture has concluded in an opinion entitled The Valencian paella. The art of joining and sharing that it is “a very precious intangible asset, with a historical-cultural tradition of great importance in all areas, whether local, regional, national or international.”
The committee supports its decision on the arguments presented by the applicants for the declaration, a group led by the Department of Tourism of the Valencia City Council, with the support of the three provincial councils, city councils, Valencian universities, cultural entities, restaurants and chefs such as Quique Dacosta (three Michelin stars) or Ricard Camarena (two stars).
Among the reasons defended is that it is “a traditional and contemporary dish”, it constitutes “an integrating phenomenon” and has a “representative character of Valencian society”. It is an “identity symbol of the Valencian territory that has endured over the years, being transmitted from generation to generation” and that has maintained the customs and practices of preparing the dish. He classifies it as a “key backbone of Valencian gastronomy”, due to the various possibilities of its preparation, in addition to qualifying it as a “cultural icon in the Spanish territory”. In addition, he maintains that “the preparation and elaboration of this dish have become a social phenomenon” due to the different activities that are carried out around the recipe, among which they have highlighted “a family meal or a rice contest”.
Regarding the sacrileges perpetrated for the preparation of paella, the opinion points out that the innovation in the ingredients is “a consequence of the globalization process” and the internationalization of the dish: “It is unique to travel to other countries and find the controversial ‘paella with chorizo or sausages’ or observe a cook stirring the rice from the paella in the typical style Risotto Italian”. For its final declaration, the publication of the file in the Official Gazette of the Generalitat Valenciana (DOGV) in a process that must be completed with three reports from consultative institutions, such as the Valencian universities, the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts or the consultative body Consell Valencià de Cultura.
“In this way, a tradition and customs are recognized that revolve around paella, the social act that surrounds it: brotherhood, meetings to prepare it, eat it and also share it. There are festivals and traditions in which a whole town congregates around it ”, points out the general director of Heritage, Carmen Amoraga, whose department is competent in the matter of declarations of assets of cultural interest.
The deputy mayor of Valencia, the socialist Sandra Gómez, expressed her satisfaction with the recognition this Wednesday, which, she said, represents a step “to continue advancing and ensuring that paella is declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. After its declaration as BIC, the Generalitat must present to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports the candidacy proposal for the list of registered cultural assets of the different autonomous communities to present to Unesco, the so-called indicative list. The property that is a candidate must remain on this list for at least one year, and thereafter, the process continues for at least two more years with the intervention of the Historic Heritage Council and the World Heritage Committee for approval. Neapolitan pizza or the Mediterranean diet are already a World Heritage Site.
The proposal of the City Council, governed by Compromís and the PSPV-PSOE, includes information collected from the recipes of the 319 restaurants distinguished by Wikipaella, using a statistical pattern. “As a conclusion, we distinguish between basic ingredients, present in 100% of the recipes, and variable ingredients, whose presence depends on the area of the Valencian Community in which we are,” he points out. There are three types of paellas: Valencian, a banda /senyoret and rabbit and snails. In the Valencian, the ingredients used are always: olive oil, rice, water, saffron, chicken, rabbit, garrofó (a type of bean), ferradura (a kind of bean), salt and tomato. In it arròs On the other hand, the same base is used but changing the water for fish broth and the meat for ranges and cuttlefish, mainly. In the third paella, very widespread in Elche, in addition to mountain snails (cowboys, in Valencian) and rabbit, red pepper is included.