The art of cooking authentic paella - Valencia, Spain

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Twenty-five minutes outside of Valencia, there is a white farmhouse.

Just outside of its walls are olive trees, rosemary bushes and rice fields.

 Inside is a chef named Rafa, who has opened up this charming home to teach the world (literally, people from all over the world) the true definition of Paella and how to make it.

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If I ever doubted that cooking is an art, I do not anymore; for making the perfect paella is a skill few possess. That's why Rafa told us that there is a designated paella chef in each Spanish family, and there is no taking turns when cooking the dish. 

Rafa provided expert guidance through the process of making the paella, but ultimately made it a hands on experience. One thing he noted right off the bat is that legit paella does not have any seafood.  It's chicken, duck or rabbit only! 

It was so fun to cook and eat with a diverse group of people - we had the Londoners, Texans and Australians who all joined us in the kitchen.  

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Rafa said we were lucky to have come when we did. While the paella simmered, he told us we would enjoy the local tomatoes, which only grew during specific months. 

They were delicious, beautiful, and huge.

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Back to cooking we went, full from the bread, cheese, meats, tomatoes, and wine (Rafa and his awesome assistants will never leave your glass empty :))

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After your first bite of paella, it is proper etiquette to exclaim how delicious the paella is. Let me just say, it was not difficult to be effusive.  

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Hannah's expression captured everyone's excitement. 

...and because we needed more food, Rafa served us his homemade cake paired with fresh watermelon and a digestif after we had our fill of paella. 

We had a contented, sleepy car ride back to the Valencian train station (Maria, one of Rafa's friendly helpers, dropped us off) to continue our adventure in Spain.