Neither of us has ever been big into Valentine's Day, so I wasn't really expecting anything special when I arrived at his house on the 14th five years ago. On the other hand: what's wrong with a nice day celebrating love? I mean, really, are we that cynical? Since then, making a lovely, challenging meal has been the way we choose to celebrate Valentine's Day. Unfortunately this year, Keith had to teach late that night, so we celebrated on the 15th (thus making this post a mere 13 days late).
Paella is a seriously pain in the butt dish. Particularly if you only make it once, maybe twice a year, it's a pain in the butt. Getting the coveted socarrat - the brick red crust of rice on the bottom of the pan - without overcooking or just plain burning the rice takes some finagling. You're supposed to cook the seafood with the dish, letting it steam as the rice cooks, but Keith has long since taken to steaming it separately to keep it cooked properly. Never mind the fact that this ain't exactly cheap - saffon, scallops? Plus, it's kind of hard to make a paella fit for two, and paella doesn't really reheat very well. (I almost took a friend up on her offer to come by and take a doggie bag.)
But oh my goodness, oh my goodness, is it good. I look forward to it the whole year. As our home fills with the rich scent of saffron, and I watch my husband lovingly work away in the kitchen, it becomes ever so clear why this is one of our food traditions, and though the specific ingredients vary from time to time, I can't imagine a year we won't celebrate Paella Day.