I was once accused by Catalans near Valencia — which is the home of paella — of knowing nothing whatsoever about paella, and of making at best what they called “arroz con cosas”: rice with things.
Fine. My culinary heritage is so limited that almost everything I make is an adaptation. But my rice with things is better than just about any other I’ve had in the United States. And to make real paella, you probably should start with a wood fire; anything else is a compromise.
Anyway, paella really is just rice with things — as is risotto, as is pilaf. There’s a technique to it, and it’s pretty straightforward, and by applying that technique to a variety of ingredients in a variety of ways, you can make something that really approaches great paella, even if a Catalan might scoff at it.