Paella feast attracts the hungry to Loftin

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Robert Kniseley, Spanish adjunct and chef, prepares paella as psychology sophomore Mikael Moreno watches Nov. 19 in the cafeteria of Loftin. Paella is a dish that dates back 400 years and originally included rabbit.  Photo by Milena Arias

Robert Kniseley, Spanish adjunct and chef, prepares paella as psychology sophomore Mikael Moreno watches Nov. 19 in the cafeteria of Loftin. Paella is a dish that dates back 400 years and originally included rabbit. Photo by Milena Arias

Spanish adjunct instructor prepares Spanish meal for students, faculty and staff.

By Amanda Tetens

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

In honor of International Education Week, local caterer and Spanish adjunct Robert Kniseley cooked up a traditional Spanish dish Wednesday in the cafeteria of Loftin Student Center.

Kniseley demonstrated how to cook Paella Valenciana. He said he has traveled to Spain on four different occasions to observe and participate in cooking the dish.

Developed in the 1480s in Valencia, Spain, the dish was first prepared for Queen Isabella I, Kniseley said. She and her husband, King Ferdinand II, were visiting the city to consolidate control over the country. The city prepared the dish especially for Isabella.

Mathew Ramirez, computer information systems freshman, accepts a plate of paella from Robert Kniseley, Spanish adjunct and chef, Nov. 19 in the cafeteria of Loftin. Kniseley prepared the traditional Spanish dish for International Education Week.  Photo by Milena Arias

Mathew Ramirez, computer information systems freshman, accepts a plate of paella from Robert Kniseley, Spanish adjunct and chef, Nov. 19 in the cafeteria of Loftin. Kniseley prepared the traditional Spanish dish for International Education Week. Photo by Milena Arias

Paella, the Spanish contraction meaning ‘for her,’ is how the dish got its name. Centuries later, local Spaniards prepare the dish traditionally as picnic food.

“Parks are all along the highways in Spain,” Kniseley said. “You can see locals starting fires and making (Paella Valenciana) right there.”

Kniseley said traditionally in Spain, the dish is prepared with rabbit. Instead, he used chicken along with sausage, shrimp, and mussels. Kniseley then sautéed sweet red peppers, jalapenos, garlic and onions. He added chicken broth, rice and the parsley dressing to finish the dish.

Kniseley said what makes the dish different from any other chicken and rice dishes is how the chicken broth is infused with saffron, which comes from the Crocus flower. Saffron is one of the world’s most expensive spices, costing $5 for half a gram.

Computer science sophomore Jarett Botello waits as Robert Kniseley, Spanish adjunct and chef, serves him paella Nov. 19 in the cafeteria of Loftin. The cooking demonstration is one of many events during International Education Week hosted by the department of language, philosophy and culture. Photo by Milena Arias

Computer science sophomore Jarett Botello waits as Robert Kniseley, Spanish adjunct and chef, serves him paella Nov. 19 in the cafeteria of Loftin. The cooking demonstration is one of many events during International Education Week hosted by the department of language, philosophy and culture. Photo by Milena Arias

Computer science sophomore Jarrett Botello along with other students, faculty and staff watched Kniseley at work.

“You could smell it from across the room,” Botello said of the paella.

Psychology sophomore Mikael Moreno said his grandmother “used to make it a lot.”

He said Kniseley’s version was “really good.”

Botello agreed. “It’s delicious,” he said.

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