The Sunday Post: On Dads and Paella

It’s my first Father’s Day since we lost my dad. I’m not sure what I want to say here today that I haven’t already shared with you. We all miss him. I’ve been thinking about him today.

I was watching a cooking competition show on Netflix the other day and each episode in this series focuses on particular country and the contestants have an hour to make a specific signature dish from that country. This episode of The Final Table featured Spain and of course the iconic dish they each had to make was paella. It made me want to take up my paella manifesto again. If you were following my blog in 2014 you may recall that I was on a quest to perfect a paella recipe. It’s been quite a while since I made one and suddenly I’m hungry for saffron rice with a crispy, crunchy bottom layer (the socarrat, or as we called it in Panama, the concolón), and of course plenty of seafood. I have the paella pan still and people to cook for so I’ve set the date and ordered the rice and saffron.

But thinking about paella also reminds me of my dad. During one of my visits home he wanted to take us out to dinner and so we set out and must have driven around the city, circling blocks and changing directions for at least half an hour while he drove us from restaurant to restaurant, changing his mind about which one he wanted to take us to. There was one known for making a great paella, but I believe it was closed on that particular night so we ended up elsewhere. I can’t even remember where we went. What I remember most about that evening was his mission to find just the right place.

My dad and a giant homemade paella (2017)

Last Father’s Day my brother, sister, and I surprised him with a group video call. He said he’d just been starting to wonder why no one had called him yet. I know it made him happy to see us all even if it was just on video. As always he wanted to know how work was going for us, how we were health-wise, and how the kids were. But it wouldn’t be a call with my dad without him asking about our cars. He always wanted to make sure we weren’t having any problems with the car. You could count on him asking no matter what else was going on. I talked to my brother not too long ago and I made a point of asking him about his car. He laughed.

I didn’t get out for a Reuben sandwich this weekend, but next time I see it on the menu, that’s what I’m having.

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