What's more comforting than a giant pan of paella? Paella originated from Valencia of Eastern Spain. Its current form that we are familiar with has been around since the mid-19th century, but it is believed an early predecessor of paella was eaten as early as the 8th century. The name of the dish comes from paellera, the name of the wide, shallow traditional pan used for cooking the rice dish over an open fire. The main ingredients of paella include short-grain rice, meats, vegetables, and saffron. However, there are many local variations; for example, there is paella de mariscos, which uses seafood instead of meat. Rice was introduced to Spain by the Moors who are of Arab descent. The Moors began rice cultivation in Spain around the eighth century. Valencia, one of the largest natural ports in the Mediterranean, was and still is one of the most important rice-producing areas in Spain. Rice dishes were limited to Valencia but spread to the rest of Spain over time. When it was introduced, paella was eaten by all classes. Many working-class farmers and laborers cooked paella for lunchtime. Their paella was typically made with rice and other available ingredients from the fields and countryside such as tomatoes, onions, and beans. Rabbit or duck may have also been added as well. For special occasions, chicken and saffron were added in. Paella was also used for family gatherings and religious feasts. During that time as well, paella was eaten directly from the pan that it was cooked in. As rice became more common throughout Spain, many paella variations appeared throughout different regions of Spain. Today, many types of paella are eaten throughout the world.