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How's life like a paella?

I guess some of you might not know what a paella is, so let's quickly get you up to date on that... paella is a traditional Spanish dish which originated around the 15th century (I'm not a historian so don't quote me on that- please). What I do know is that the Romans and the Moors in Spain are responsible for creating this dish. The original one included chicken, rabbit, green beans, artichokes and some type of legume like white beans. The Moors brought in the rice since it had been a staple since they had started its cultivation around the 10th century. I've heard stories that paella was considered a poor man's dish. Families would save meat and vegetables from their week's meals and combine it all with some rice at the end of the week. So you see this dish is a culmination of Roman and Muslim cultures perfectly combined to make what we consider a traditional, delicacy as far as cuisine goes.

Now back to the original quesion...How's life like a paella? I consider life like a paella because in life, just like in paella, you have a little bit of everything. Let's take the rice, in old or present paella recipes, rice is a constant ingredient. You cannot have paella without it. Just like in life, you will have hardships, make bad choices, lack common sense (and not just in your teen years), and break a commandment or two. That's just part of life. All of the other ingredients are interchangeable and can vary upon your mood in both the paella and life. Case in point, during your free time you may choose to spend time alone or on some days you may choose to spend the day with girlfriends- sit by the pool, drink wine and eat paella all day.

Paella can be traditional, but there are variations. I like the Mixed Paella; it has jumbo shrimp, mussels, chicken, chorizo (but don't tell people from Spain that- they hate that), onions, red pepper, peas, saffron, and rice. So it's a lot of stuff that's different, but together it's so yummy! I mean who would think seafood, chicken and pork could be in a dish and it still be acceptable? That's how life is, life allows you to meet and build relationships with a variety of people, from near and far. In doing so you learn about other customs, other points of view, and even share experiences through their story telling. I often feel sad for individuals who seem to reflect a lack of empathy. Those who in the surface appear to be cold hearted towards those who do not look like them or have the same background. It's my opinion that perhaps they just lack exposure to people that do not share their own demographics. I've met people who initially I thought, "Wow! That's a disturbing stance" or "Really? Did that generalization just come out of your mouth?" I had those thoughts because the individual stated something one could justifiably take offense to. Let me share one minor example;

Person: (in my presence, I'm in the room, standing right next to her) "Don't worry, Hispanic people don't really have books at home."

Me: (looking perplexed) "Actually, I'm Hispanic and I have many books at home. All three of my boys were reading at a 4th grade fluency and comprehension level by kindergarten."

Person: (looking remorseful) "I didn't mean you, Nury, I'm sorry."

I could have been offended, right? But I pulled myself togehter and I decided to take it as a teachable moment and I truly believe that person will most likely never make that statement again. I helped that person see how it was not a general statement one should make, just by sharing a quick story of my boys.

So there it is... life is like a paella! So the next time you're in Atlanta stop by the Barcelona Wine Bar at Inman Park or Loca Luna near the Perimeter Mall and order some paella OR you could make some, it's super easy!

And if you haven't had the opportunity to treat your life like a paella...Good News! Today's a new day so you can start right away and with the diversity in our country it shouldn't be too hard to meet and get to know someone who is different than you. Don't dwell on your mistakes, just learn from them. Love your alone time and your time spent with those you love.

By the way...that girlfriends & paella thing I mentioned...I did that yesterday!

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