When Jamie Oliver posted a photograph of a delicious looking pot of rice, his own mouthwatering recipe for the popular Valencian dish of paella, he could hardly have expected to spark provoke outrage.
“Good Spanish food doesn’t get much better than paella. My version combines chicken thighs & chorizo,” he tweeted in an seemingly harmless post on Tuesday with a photo of his “recipe of the day”.
But the Naked Chef had unwittingly committed one of the most heinous crimes in Spanish cooking: he added the spicy sausage chorizo to a dish where it really wasn’t welcome.
It wasn’t long before the nation of Spain rose up to defend one of its most iconic and traditional dishes slamming Oliver for his “abomination” and urging him to go back to cooking school.
Someone even compared the Naked Chef’s version to the laughable attempt to improve a priceless fresco by an octogenarian parishoner in northeastern Spain.
The London Paella School even reached out to offer the famous TV chef a free lesson
Someone has even started a change.org petition calling for support to stop British chefs – including Gordon Ramsey and Nigella Lawson alongside Jamie Oliver – adding chorzo to paella.
But it wasn’t all criticism. Famous Spanish chef José Andrés who has built up a culinary empire in the USA jumped in to his defence.
Spaniards are so protective of their de-facto national dish that there are even self-proclaimed “paella police” in the form of Wikipaella.
The online group monitors restaurants, naming and shaming those who don’t come up to scratch and offering awards to those establishments that meet approval and respect the tradition by serving an authentic paella.
According to the website, the ingredients of a good paella can depend on the region and there are always seasonal variations such as the addition of artichokes. It states however that carrots, mushrooms and above all chorizo have no place there.
When it comes to paella, tradition wins out over experimentation.