Paella is one of the most famous rice dishes in the world. And while much attention has been paid to the various ingredients from rice types to savory toppings. Yet little has been written about the pan that actually gave the dish its name and its amazing cultural history.
In 710 the Moors of North Africa conquered Iberia and continued to govern Spain until 1492. For 700 years under Moorish rule Spain experienced a cultural renaissance that embraced agriculture, medicine, mathematics, architecture to name only a few of the areas that flowered.
Cuisine was no exception. Among their many amazing contributions was the humble terracotta tagine pan. Its shallow depth and slanted sides set a design precedent for later paella pan. Along the way it lost its tower cover.
For centuries short grain rice in Spain was cooked by the poor in similar earthenware pans.
When Spain industrialized in the mid 1800's, these traditional terracotta pans were replaced by metal ones complete with "dimples" to insure even cooking.
Today metal paella pans large and small are used by chefs around the world in a pan and a dish that's now truly global.