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Paella: The real thing?

March 28, 2009

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I had a great morning at Bath farmers’ market (at Green Park Station) this Saturday scooping up freshly-made florentines and pear tart; wonderful ruby coloured organic pears and new season rhubarb; chalky, tart fresh goat’s cheese; delicious real bread from a new bakers and paella from the fish stall.

The paella was relatively expensive at £5 a portion, but its bright yellow colour dotted with bright slivers of red pepper and dabs of black mussels was irresistible – it looked like the real thing and this was a proper fish stall after all – it would make a quick supper after a busy week. As I plonked it into the frying pan to heat it through I noticed that both of the mussels (shockingly little for two portions) were still wearing their beards and one was pretty much closed. There was rather less actual fish in this than I had been led to believe from the glistening paella pan – total of one large chunk of white fish, 2 mussels, nothing else distinguishable: a bit of a let down.
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But the most heinous crime turned out to be the lack of saffron – in fact we quickly realised that the distinctive yellow colour was gained from turmeric rather than the more expensive, yet essential, saffron threads.

At that price how hard could it be to add the real thing and, given that they have a plentiful supply of fish, why could they not have been a bit more generous with the basic ingredient?

It’s poor offerings like this that give farmers’ markets a bad name as being a rip-off and stop newcomers going back. Me: I’ll just avoid David Felce and Daughters in the future – and I might mention to them that they should take off the beards before serving up mussels: it’s only polite.

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