Making paella is not easy. The socarrat, or crust, must caramelize without carbonizing. The seasonings must sing but not bellow. The rice must plump up without bloating. The open flame bringing the magic to life must be strong but not aggressive.
That said, it’s still easier to get a perfect paella on the table than it was for Valencian adman and paella traditionalist Guillermo Navarro to align all the forces necessary that allowed for the April debut of an (almost) perfect paella emoji.
Paella, a rice dish made in a large flat pan, originated in the eastern Spanish province of Valencia many centuries ago. The paella emoji didn’t begin to twinkle in Navarro’s eye until 2015, when his ad agency, La Mujer del Presidente (First Lady) dreamed it up as a great way to promote its client, Arroz La Fallera. (Arroz means rice.) “It started out as a silly idea in a bar, like kind of a joke,” said Navarro. “Then we were like, maybe we can really do this. But how?”