I WAS fascinated to read about Jamie Oliver’s take on paella, or rather the reaction to it.

Jamie Oliver when he cooked a paella for villagers of Benaojan in the Serrania de Ronda – back in the summer of 2009

Picked up by papers both in the UK and here in The Olive Press, it highlights the Spanish backlash to his inclusion of chorizo in the dish, prompting comments ranging from the diplomatic to the downright venomous.

I am both disappointed and pleased at the reaction.

With some trepidation I now turn to the Brexit issue (bear with me). Having followed the campaign with great interest and more than a tad of nationalistic feeling, I can’t help but see a similarity between the two events (Polemical Paella and Brexit Backlash).

The Spanish are, in my view, quite rightly cheesed off – they do make some excellent cheeses too of course – at someone from another country messing around with one of their national dishes (I use the word ‘national’ deliberately). And why shouldn’t they be? They have a dish recognised and reveered around the world – a ubiquitous symbol of Spanish cuisine… and some Essex git (sorry Jamie… just for effect x) gets a hold of it and promptly chucks in (you know how he works) a pile of pig and paprika!

Of course the business of meat in paella is nothing new but to a Valencian or a paella purist, it’s not hard to imagine the hackles rising.

And of course from the Brexit point of view, teens of millions of Brits stood up and said “Hey! Stop mucking around with our… our… well with ‘us’!” They were fed up with having their laws, their society, their ability to be, themselves, shaped and dictated by dogma from afar.

Why would anyone be less than annoyed at an outsider messing with their national interests? Clearly paella and membership of the EU are on different levels… well wait a minute, what if an unelected body from another country were to dictate to the Valencians that their authentic paella dishes could no longer be described as such and that all paella dishes were to be treated the same? It doesn’t take much imagination to see the next round of tweets… and I would support the Valencians.

Anyway, back to the original point and to summarise; I understand and support the mini nationalistic uprising over paella and despite the differences in scale between high politics and national cuisine , isn’t it just all about protecting what’s dear to you?

As for venomous tweets, which come from all directions on all subjects, to me it’s a bit like sniping… a high powered rifle at distance… I’m sure they’d be much kinder face to face.

Here’s hoping all the countries of Europe work hard to maintain their national identities, customs and traditions so that we can all continue to pursue our cross-border curiosities. Isn’t that what takes us there in the first place?

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