Paella is a rice dish that originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century near lake Albufera, a lagoon near the eastern coast of Spain's Valencian region.
Many non-Spaniards view paella as Spain's national dish. However, most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish. Valencians, in turn, regard paella as one of their identity symbols.
There are three widely known types of paella: Valencian paella (Spanish: paella valenciana), seafood paella (Spanish: paella de marisco) and mixed paella (Spanish: paella mixta); but there are many others as well. Valencian paella consists of white rice, green vegetables, meat, snails, beans and seasoning. Seafood paella replaces meat and snails with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of meat, seafood, vegetables and sometimes beans.
Most paella chefs use calasparra or bomba rices for this dish. Other key ingredients include saffron and olive oil.
Paella has gained considerable popularity throughout most of the Spanish-speaking world and among Hispanics in the United States. It also enjoys moderate popularity throughout Western Europe.