Festival de la Paella Gigante
It was a rainy Saturday afternoon. I didn’t know it was the beginning of a typhoon to hit our country. Good thing that I opted to spend it to a filling Festival de la Paella Gigante before we would be cooped inside the house for days.
Anyway, we entered the historic Casino Español de Manila with smoke and the smell of heavy cooking greeting us. Within the compound is Instituto Cervantes Manila, where I once took some Spanish lessons. This is one event that reminds us of our Spanish roots and celebrates the friendship between two countries. And what better way to connect both cultures than to share a meal? Filipinos love food. Every occasion is celebrated with food and music and merriment.
A huge paella pan was sitting in the middle of the open area with burning wood and charcoals underneath it. The chefs started putting in the oil, a sign that the exciting part is about to begin.
Then came the meat, then the seafood, the bell peppers, tomatoes… we were so caught up in the moment that we couldn’t tell which one was placed first in the pan. The next thing I remembered was that the rice was put in and a lot of water was poured over it. The giant paella pan was then covered with large strips of silver foil.
While all these were happening, a band playing a mix of Spanish and modern songs could be heard in the background. Drops of rain still fall over the tent that protects the open area. And the smell was just so enticing.
We first took our tapas and some sangria as we waited for the paella. Minutes passed until we heard some exciting sounds near the cooking area. We gathered there and the chefs were taking their photos by the pan. The foil strips were taken out and the whiff of paella consumed us.
People gathered by the pan and we, too, got our share. But not before posing with la paella gigante. The eating began. It was a feast worth attending on a Saturday afternoon. I was never able to finish my plate. But then again, I enjoyed every bit of it.