If I have learned one thing about cooking the food of Valencia it’s that you really should respect tradition. If you want to learn how to make paella you should begin with the most traditional form of this hallowed Valencian dish before you start breaking out into improvisation. I doubt there is a more rigid standard in all of European cooking that what most people here consider to be a paella. Most of the other dishes I set out to conquer don’t have recipes as jealously guarded as the one seemingly written in stone for paella but I have learned my lesson and always seek out the most traditional form of a dish. Learning a new recipe can be like the children’s game of Telephone and the farther you are from the source the more garbled will be your message.
It seems only logical that if you are trying to learn how to make an Italian dish you should look at some recipes prepared by Italians. This isn’t to say that just because a cook shares nationalities with the dish being prepared they will automatically make it better, like there is something in their DNA but I think it’s a good idea to begin at the beginning. And, of course, a foreigner can cook traditional dishes as well as native born chefs.
Whenever a friend brags about their grandmother’s cooking I tell them that they should be making videos of her staple dishes. The same goes for grandfathers. Get it on film.