La Primera Paella (Paella Dinners at Camino)

Camino Paella Postcard

Camino Paella Postcard

It’s not often that while enjoying a meal, I am reminded of the first time I had a dish. With so much trendy fusion and fashionable deconstruction, I find to my dismay that a favorite dish seldom looks and tastes like it does in my memory. So when it does, I take notice, and come back for more. That’s what happened during Camino’s paella dinners last August and September — I relived the beautiful memory of my first paella.

I was visiting my uncle in Andalucia, and we were already on our way to a family dinner when he asked, “Do you like paella?” I confessed that it was going to be my first time, and with extra enthusiasm he started to tell me all about the dish and who was going to be there. But we were not in a hurry, because it was a lazy Summer day, and when we got there, the sun was beginning to set and we all sat outside, drinking wine, talking, waiting, while the paella slowly cooked over a wood fire on the ground.

After asking for seconds, and then thirds, my uncle smiled and told me to save some room for dessert and our after-dinner drink, a small glass of a creamy, dark, and sweet, oloroso sherry. Now, almost 25 years later, I realize that dinner was more than about the food, it was the celebration of a tradition, it was about the journey, about making the paella, about waiting for it and not just thinking it’s so good you must have seconds. Maybe that’s why I have tremendous respect for a Chef that cooks a paella.

In many ways, the paella is a great teacher, and by cooking it, you will learn about the importance of century old traditions. And it will bring people together — cook it, and they will come. And to Camino I went, 4 times, always bringing friends, and sitting close to the kitchen, where week after week the Chef was cooking chicken, seafood, duck, and even vegetarian paellas over an open fire, just like that first time in Spain. Gracias Camino, for reminding me of my first paella.

For more information on upcoming events at Camino, visit →