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Eternal rice, future rice


The base product of paella and one of the stars of Spanish gastronomy continues to generate debate between defenders of tradition and avant-garde paladins.

Until the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, the process of treating rice for consumption was always done manually: the grains were beaten in a mortar to the rhythm of a brass drum or they were trodden by animals in order to loosen the top layer of the seeds, which were then thrown away. In 1861, with the first patent, by British engineer Sampson Moore of the commercial rice polisher, the door was opened to progress that promised more speed and less effort. Come on, the qualities that are presupposed for development. This mechanization facilitated the husking of the crops in the new mills, which polished the grains leaving them completely white. Remember that brown rice was taken as food by poor people, so those silky white grains, easier to cook and chew, with better taste and digestibility, came with good credentials.

The inconvenience was caused by the fact that when the bran was removed, the noble layer where the vitamins and minerals are also disappeared, leaving hardly any nutritional value. From one day to the next, millions of peasants unknowingly began to eat a low thiamine diet that caused serious health problems.

In 1897, the Dutch physician Christiaan Eijkman realized that the problem lay in refining. And I, in that perhaps until the end of the 19th century the rice in the Levante was not blanched either, which would mean that the cooking was more than double what is done today. I consulted old texts and older recipes still searching for a truth. And the evidence of my error was found in the first volume of General Agriculture, in the corrected version of 1818 by the Matritense Economic Society. This illustrates the way in which the grazers, as those who cleaned rice were called, by force of arms, separated by gravity the clean grains from the broken and clothed, from the bran and the husk.

Perhaps I was more disconcerted to come across in that same chapter with a reference to the fact that “some years the rice comes out whiter than others, that it seems darker, and that the natives of the kingdom of Valencia prefer this to the whiter one because it grows much more when it is flavored and is tastier; but it also takes more time to cook and consumes more water ”. Possibly in support of the above, it is indicated that “to know the fixed quantity of broth that is needed, whatever the one that is intended to be stewed, they generally carry the rule of stirring it with a wooden spoon and before it rests entirely, plant it in the center of the pot, and if it is kept motionless, they add something else, and the same thing is repeated until the spoon is tartale without falling, which is when it has enough. And if to the fact of stirring the rice with a spoon we add another as compromising as the addition of sausage and pork loin —two of the ingredients included in the first paella recipe, published in 1857 by M. Garciarena and Mariano Muñoz— Well, we have the two things that were popularly criticized by the popular British television chef Jamie Oliver when he made this recipe.

It is still a paradox that this elaboration that has been accommodating over time from the banks of the Albufera to acquire the current form is conceived as invariable. It is evident that there are dishes that are attempts at time travel, fleeting glances at an instant anchored in collective memories. It is tempting to think that a smell from the past has not changed anything in decades, but reality traces another truth: and that's when I think that, if the world advances and changes, neglecting the evolution of a recipe or idea, closing it between stereotypes and making it impossible that its time lives, in its time, is to prevent it from growing alongside its culture, which on the other hand never stops changing.

Carolina otherwise

Carolina dessert. Oscar Oliva


(for four persons)

For the meringue:

160 grams of chickpea cooking water.

320 grams of sugar.

320 ml of water.

For the cooked meringue:

400 grams of meringue.

For the unctuous yolk:

60 grams of pasteurized yolk.

For the puff pastry:

1 sheet of puff pastry.

1 egg.

Dry meringue


Cocoa powder

Unctuous yolk.


Carolina is a typical sweet from the city of Bilbao.


Aquafaba is the cooking liquid of any legume that due to its characteristics has foaming properties very similar to that of egg white.


The meringue:

Bring the sugar and water together and bring to a boil without stirring to make a syrup. On the other hand, with the help of some rods, beat the aquafaba; when it is assembled, gradually add the syrup while continuing to beat until you have a meringue. Place in a pastry bag and set aside.

The cooked meringue:

Arrange on a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop the meringue. Dry at 50 degrees for 8 hours and break into irregular pieces. Reserve in a dry place.

The unctuous yolk:

Put the yolk in a bowl and cook in a bain-marie over very low heat until smooth. Cool and reserve.

The puff pastry:

Brush the pastry sheet with beaten egg and bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes. Cut into squares of about 3 centimeters.

Finish and presentation

Arrange the meringue in the middle of the plate and sprinkle cocoa; place the dried meringues and puff pastries, and finish with the unctuous yolk.

Source: elparis

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