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Paella gets protected status as part of Valencia’s cultural heritage | Culture

Voice Of EU



Paella has been declared by Spain’s regional government of Valencia, where the dish originated, as “an asset of cultural interest” (or BIC in its Spanish acronym), a status affording special legal protection.

A new decree published in the Mediterranean region’s official gazette describes paella as “the art of uniting and sharing.” According to the declaration, paella is at the heart of Valencia’s gastronomic tradition and has become one of the “most prestigious global brands” of Spain.

Paella is not only a dish in itself. Its elaboration and the art involved in its preparation and tasting make it a true social phenomenon

Valencia government decree

As part of the recognition, the paella’s origins have been officially established as emerging from the wetlands of La Albufera, “where the dish was cooked in order to sustain the peasants and farmers in the area.” At the end of the 19th century, Valencian paella was exported from the farmhouses to the eating houses and picnic areas around Malvarrosa beach, the Grao district of Castellón and the Albufereta neighborhood of Alicante.

“Without a doubt this emblematic dish, which is at the core of traditional Valencian cuisine, represents togetherness and is a fundamental cornerstone of the Valencian region’s gastronomy… Paella is not only a dish in itself. Its elaboration and the art involved in its preparation and tasting make it a true social phenomenon, even shaping aspects of the landscape and ecosystem of the Valencian region due to the cultivation and harvesting of the food with which it is made.”

The decree was approved on October 29 following a request from Valencia’s City Council. As well as being declared an asset of cultural interest, the paella is now protected by a series of additional measures, including further studies and documentation work to ensure that the knowledge is passed on to future generations.

Origins of the dish

The Albufera freshwater lagoon in Valencia is where much of the region's rice is grown.
The Albufera freshwater lagoon in Valencia is where much of the region’s rice is grown. Antonio Garrido Ramos (getty images)

The origins of the dish are traced back to 330 BC, when Alexander the Great brought rice to Europe. “However, rice was not grown in large quantities in Valencia until the arrival of the Arabs who introduced improvements in cultivation techniques and irrigation systems on the eastern coast of Spain,” states the decree.

In the 16th century, the playwright Francisco de Paula Martí wrote in a small treatise attached as an appendix to the General Agriculture Study by Gabriel Alonso de Herrera that “the Valencians have the arrogance, well founded in my opinion, [to believe] that no one has come to know how to season [rice] better than they do, nor in such various ways (…) It is not strange that the Valencians have achieved a degree of perfection in this aspect, unknown in the other provinces, because they sustain themselves almost exclusively with this food, particularly those without great means, and so they have studied how to make it more pleasing to the palate.”

De Paula added: “Everywhere people have wanted to imitate them and, in a bid to do so, they usually leave it half-cooked, mistakenly calling it Valencian rice, as they are under the impression that the natives eat it almost raw, having observed that the cooked grains remained whole and separated in the Valencian dishes.”

In the 18th century, the first reference to paella or “Valencia-style rice” popped up in a manuscript of recipes, explaining the techniques for its preparation, including the remark that the rice must be dry. And in 1896, the French cinematographer Eugène Lixse filmed the preparation of a paella for the first time.

In the 20th century, this traditional dish began to catch on in the big cities and reached its zenith with the tourist boom in the 1960s, when foreign tourists flooded into the country to spend their vacations on the coast.

The decree does not provide the recipe for paella because “there are many versions and styles,” but it does give some broad suggestions regarding its preparation. For example, it flags up the practice of adding rice to the broth by “forming a cross so that the amount is distributed equally in the paella; and. if the number of diners allows, the layer of this ingredient should be thin.” Another tip states that “it is advisable not to stir the rice while it is cooking, as it contains starch, a thickening element present in cereal, which is not desirable if you want the grain of the paella to be loose.”

According to the Valencia government’s declaration, tradition dictates that paella should be eaten with a wooden spoon, “although today this custom is no longer widely practiced and it is left to the choice of each diner.”

But it is the ritual around the preparation of the dish that makes it a peculiarly Valencian social icon. “Virtually any major event that takes place in the Valencia region has this delicacy at its heart, as it is indicative of festivity and cohesion, largely due to the humble dish’s simplicity. The custom of involving the diners in its preparation, within a festive framework, makes it a symbol of the Valencian people.”

After granting paella cultural protection, regional authorities now wish to take the matter further and “have our iconic dish declared part of the world’s intangible heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.”

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

Voice Of EU



Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

Voice Of EU



Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.

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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

Voice Of EU



House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites and, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.


This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.


“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.


Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”

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