THE SPANISH Embassy in the UK has got involved in a now week-long debate about Marks & Spencer’s ‘controversial’ chorizo paella croquettes, which not only sparked an international online conversation that was dubbed #croquetagate but also made it into dozens of newspapers both in Spain and in Britain.
In an 80-second video shared via their social media accounts, staff at the London-based embassy are shown trying the bite-sized morsels.
“British…” is the first reaction of a female member of the Spanish embassy team after trying one. “Playful,” is the response of a male colleague. “Not sure,” says a third.
The last speaker in the video suggests that Marks & Spencer has waded into ‘uncharted territory’, and asks: “Can you make for Christmas churros with chocolate croquetas? Are you up to the challenge?!”
The ‘croquetagate’ controversy was sparked last Friday when Olive Press journalist Simon Hunter shared a picture of the supermarket’s new creation on social network X (formerly Twitter), with the simple caption: ‘NO NO NO’.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver found himself at the centre of a massive online backlash from Spaniards back in 2016 when he shared a paella recipe that included chorizo. For purists of the Valencia dish, chorizo had no business being in paella and many made sure that Oliver got that message – he even received death threats about his new creation.
The tweet from Hunter may have been a mere anecdote had the UK ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, not got involved.
In a response, the top diplomat wrote: “Chorizo, ¡si! Paella, ¡si! Croquetas, ¡si! ¡si! ¿All together? ….M&S, what have you done?”
The Olive Press published a story about the online debate on Sunday, and it was then picked up by The Telegraph on Monday thanks to the ambassador’s contribution.
From there the croquetas became something of a phenomenon, with dozens of articles appearing in both the UK and Spanish press – including on the front page of The Times – questioning whether the recipe represented ‘cultural appropriation’ and exploring whether or not they actually tasted any good.
Despite the outrage among Spaniards about the combination of chorizo, paella and croquetas, three things that do not usually go together, Marks & Spencer had a surprising revelation.
They told Hunter that the croquetas had actually been created for them by a Spanish Michelin-starred chef: Nandu Jubany, from the Can Jubany restaurant in Barcelona.
Marks & Spencer also reported that the chorizo paella croquetas had flown off the shelves since #croquetagate blew up, with sales well up, proving the old adage that ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’.
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