"That is my version and I stand by it. It's damn good," the celebrity chef said
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is standing by a recipe he posted online for paella, despite food fans in the dish’s native Spain panning the rice meal as an “abomination.” The British cook, head of a food empire that spans TV shows and restaurants, caused a social media storm in Spain when he tweeted his take on the classic paella, adding “my version combines chicken thighs and chorizo.”
Traditional paella is a savoury dish that originates from Valencia, the third largest city in Spain and located on the eastern coast beside the Mediterranean Sea. For Spanish purists, the meal consists of a mix of rice, vegetables, and shellfish cooked in the same style as a risotto, but with the rice producing less starch than the Italian classic.
It was the addition of chorizo, the commonly-found Spanish sausage, that rubbed Spanish cooks the wrong way, with furious Spaniards taking to Twitter to complain about Oliver appropriating a piece of Spanish culture and doing with it whatever he wanted.
@jamieoliver Thanks for destroying our most famous recipe. Please, don't use the word "paella" to describe rice with random stuff— Francesc Alonso (@Pacosimat) October 4, 2016
Oliver, currently on a press tour in Canada promoting his new book, responded to the controversy by standing by his take on the recipe, emphasising how it was his personal interpretation. “It did say my version, it did say my version,” he said. “So, you know, this is my version and I stand by it. It’s damn good.”
The chef, who jokingly said the addition of chorizo had been whispered in his ear by a Spanish “nonna” during a trip to Valencia, also said that it was important for home cooks to be able to experiment with recipes and work with the ingredients available to them.
“Look, I think there’s so much evolution in recipes, whether it’s a risotto or paella or a classic. I mean, you know, if people try and say it’s a classic, is that okay? Why is there one hundred recipes that are all slightly different?”