By Lindsay Geller
Remember Thanksgiving? I spent it on a continent where no one really cares about our romanticized Pilgrim-Native American relationships or the food eaten to celebrate it. Still, I’m not really complaining because normally I’d have to navigate around the dining table of one extended family member or another. But since I’m studying abroad this year, I got to celebrate in Spain—awkwardly fitting since that’s where this whole “America” thing got started.
Barcelona took me by surprise. France and Italy are obvious foodie destinations, but Spain may be one of the best vegan foodie destinations. This title is all thanks to a little dish called paella. Standard paella is not vegan, featuring seafood or chicken. However, most restaurants also offer vegetable paella, a deliciously green take on Spain’s most famous dish. Besides mushroom tapas, I basically spent this past weekend living off of vegetable paella. Who needs tofurkey anyway?
The first time I tried this dish, I didn’t know what to expect. However, I live for immersing myself in local culture (even when I’m supposed to be celebrating my own), and if I wasn’t going to try paella then, I probably never would. After one bite, I knew that my sense of adventure had not failed me. The combination of saffron seasoned rice, peas, green beans, tomatoes, artichokes, and sweet peppers was fulfilling and satisfying without making me feel heavy. Not only that, but paella is the perfect dish for those who shy away from spicy dishes. Medium salsa overwhelms me sometimes, but paella was flavorful without being overbearing.
So, if you’re bored with Thanksgiving leftovers, try experimenting with some Spanish flavor! (Remember, it was a Spaniard who discovered our continent anyway…) Although the ingredient list may be a little intimidating, the actual preparation is quite simple. Paella is hearty and nutritious, so it might just be the perfect dish to help you avoid any winter weight gain. Here’s a great recipe. Paella isn’t a traditional winter/holiday recipe, but we vegans don’t play by the rules.