Paella

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In the recent past travels, I’ve taken quite a few solo trips. I backpacked Lisbon-Ibiza-Madrid-Barcelona, took a quick trip to LA and another backpack from Argentina through Brazil. Next month I’m headed to Peru!! People always ask me if I mind traveling by myself. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer to go with a companion but sometimes it just doesn’t work out and over time I realized that if I kept waiting for someone to go with me, I’d never go at all. So I chock up a bit of courage, I do my research, and I’m smart about it. I stay in female only rooms at hostels and take every precaution to really look out for myself. The during the day part is great. I wake up bright and early and hit the ground running. There’s no one to compromise with so I can spend the day bolting from one sight to the next by maneuvering the subways and buses …or endlessly walking the city… or just sitting on a bench watching passerbys. I just love taking it all in. Night time is when I get lonely. Normally if I had someone with me, we would go out painting the town and thriving on the nightlife. But when I’m traveling by myself, I don’t, for two reasons:

1.- It’s not fun drinking alone
2.- It’s not safe drinking alone

I usually get some dinner and as the sun goes down, head back to my hostel. If there’s another lone girl I happen to be bunking up with, it’s great, I found a drinking buddy! But if it’s just me I call it a night.
My first solo trip I was in Barcelona heading home at night, walking Las Ramblas, when I really had to pee. I ducked into a hotel to use their bathroom. The consierge told me to follow the corridor and turn “izquierdo.” I must have turned “derecho” because I opened a door expecting to find a European toilet, only to enter a wedding! What the??? I continued looking around for the bathroom when a butler offered me an hors d’oeuvre. Don’t mind if I do! Then another butler and another. They must have thought I belonged there! And was the food was tasty! Well, I must have gotten caught up in the moment because before I knew it I was stuffing my face with tapas, drinking champagne, and mingling in my half-ass Spanglish. It was awesome! There was this beautiful soulful Spanish wedding revolving around me like I was on a Latina carousel. The music, the dancing, the food… it was all just so fascinating. I couldn’t help but marvel in it. The travel gods hooked me up!! When dinner was served I sat at the bar by myself and ate a huge bowl of Paella. It was DELICIOUS. Eventually things started winding down, the crowd thinned, and I realized I was like Cinderella out past her curfew. I had to get home! I stepped out of the hotel and back onto Las Ramblas when it hit me- I drank wayyy to much champagne. If I didn’t know my Izquierdo from my Derecho before I sure as hell don’t know it now. I had no idea my route back. I knew my hostel was on the beach so I figured if I could just get to the beach I would eventually find it. I looked in every direction and on one horizon I saw black, that had to be the ocean. So I just kept walking toward the black, and toward the black and further toward the black. Whistling Taylor Swift songs to keep me alert (and entertained!) I finally reached sand! Yes the beach! After another lengthy hunt up and down the shoreline a few times, I finally found my accommodations. Nighty night!!
As foggy as a awoke the next morning, I still had the clarity to see what an idiot I was for partaking in something so careless. And truth:

1. It wasn’t fun. I had no husband to roll over to or girlfriend to text and say “Omg can you believe last night!! WE CRASHED A WEDDING!!”  …Bummer.

2. It wasn’t safe. Any number of things could have happened to me on that walk home. I thanked my guardian angel for lookin’ out. Girlll, thanks for having my back!

I knew in that moment I would never do something like that again. Except for PAELLA. I was totally making that Paella!

Paella

2 red bell peppers, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

a few garlic cloves, chopped

2 lbs. FREE RANGE boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 c. frozen peas

1 14 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes

Chili powder

Paprika

Oregano

4 c. cooked rice

1/2 t. Tumeric

1/4 c. butter

2 c. chicken stock

Fresh Parsley, chopped

S&P

Use an extra large frying pan or even better an electric casserole dish. Saute the peppers, onions, and garlic in a bit of olive oil until almost tender. Add the cubed chicken and continue cooking until chicken is cooked through. Add a palmful each of the Chili powder, Paprika, and Oregano.

Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stovetop according to package directions, but also adding the Tumeric and swig of olive oil.

Once the rice is cooked, add it along with the frozen peas, fire roasted tomatoes, and butter to the vegetables and chicken. Combine everything together. Finally, add the shrimp and chicken stock and cook a few more minutes til the shrimp are pink and cooked through. Season with S&P. Garnish with parsley.

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