Wednesday, 09 March 2022 13:52

At Last: Good Paella In Gran Canaria

Rather like tapas, paella isn't a traditional dish in the Canary Islands and finding a good one in Gran Canaria has always been difficult.

Proper paella is not pukka

Proper paella hails from the Valencian region and is made from chicken, rabbit and snails. What visitors think of as paella, yellow rice with prawns, mussels and calamares, is actually a completely different dish called arroz a banda.

The Valencians are quite defensive about the origins and authenticity of paella because it is one of the most abused dishes on Earth. 

Proper paella is two grains of rice thick, not bright yellow, and each mouthful is a blast of flavour. The stuff you get in most Gran Canaria resort restaurants, and even local restauarants, is a long way removed from the real thing. In fact if you find paella on a restaurant menu and the waiter doesn't warn you about how long it will take, you know it's coming out of the freezer. 

Proper paella in Gran Canaria

Paella takes a while to cook so most local restaurants only do it on Sundays. Even when they do it tends to be too thick and bright yellow to be authentic. These local paellas can be delicious but are never quite as good as the real deal. 

To try the real deal, find local restaurants called arrocerias which specialise in rice dishes. The most accessible in south Gran Canaria is El Caldero along the Meloneras strip. This serves paella, and arroz a banda, cooked over flames with the right amount of rice and spices (as you can see from the photo, it isn't bright yellow). If you feel adventurous, try the black rice (cooked and coloured with squid ink). 

Alex Says: Paella servings At El Caldero are generous so four people will struggle to eat "paella for four". It's best to order paella for two or three, especially if you order starters. 

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Tip of the day

  • The Parafarmacia In Gran Canaria Is Not A Chemist!
    The Parafarmacia In Gran Canaria Is Not A Chemist!

    If there is one thing we hate it is visitors being tricked in Gran Canaria. In the past we've warned about overcharging at Gran Canaria chemists, and rip off electronics shops in resorts. 

    In this Tip Of The Day we return to the island's chemists or rather, to the island's fake chemists.

    A chemist in Gran Canaria is called a Farmacia and always has a green cross sign. Farmacias are the only place tobuy medicine in Spain, even basics like paracetamol.

    However, there is another kind of shop in Gran Canaria that looks and sounds like a chemist but doesn't sell medicine. This is the Parafarmacia and it also uses a green cross sign.

    A parafarmacia is a herbal medicine shop that is not allowed to sell any normal medicine such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or antibiotics. 

    Instead, parafarmacias sell herbal alternatives to medicine but don't have to prove that they work and they can charge whatever they want.

    We recently heard from a visitor to Gran Canaria who went into a parafarmacia and was charged 40 euros for a herbal alternative to Ibuprofen. It was only when they read the label that they realised what had happened. 

    To locate a genuine farmacia, see this website and search within your municipio (Puerto Rico is in Mogán, Playa del Inglés is in San Bartolomé de Tirajana). At weekends and on fiesta days many farmacias close but there is always one open, known as the farmacia de guardia, in each municipio.

    Search for the nearest one to you with this tool

    Lex Says: To keep costs down, see this article for the way to ask for generic medicine rather than expensive branded alternatives. 

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