As we wound down our time in Spain in the Spring of 1976, one of our last official acts was to throw an anniversary party for ourselves. It was our twentieth anniversary. In the States we had entertained by inviting other people into our homes. In Guam extended families either attended fiestas or gave them. But in Spain the custom was to invite each other out to restaurants.
For example, we knew of a fish place in The Calvario, a village sparated from Torremolinos by a protrusion of land that swept into the Med. The little fish place had no menu because they didn’t know what was going to be caught that day. Each time we ate there, we’d have to go through a little ritual.
“Hay calamari?” (Squid)
“No, no hay calamari?”
“Hay boquerones?” (Deep fat fried fingerling fish, eaten bones and all. Full of transfats. Yum.)
And so we would proceed through the same litany every time we went there. But we could always depend on fresh fish, salad, bread and wine for about $2.00 a head.
Our multlilingual neighbor, Claude deBretteville, always solved most of our problems, whether it came to procuring entry stamps for passports, finding a hotel room during Romería, or, in this case, finding a suitable restaurant for our party. She found a very small restaurant on the outskirts of town that had been used as a stage coach house in the early 17th century and had stayed in constant operation since. Ventorilla La Perra.
The restaurant was small but had an ambiance a Stateside business would kill for. It was actually built 300 years ago, not two years ago and made to look old. White stucco exterior, tile floors, wrought iron. Our 22 guests dined outdoors that evening on paella, salad, and bread. The paella contained shellfish, lobster, fresh asparagus. Gourmet magazine could have featured this dish. We also had an open bar. Our guests could have as much beer, wine or soft drinks as they wanted. I suppose tea and coffee as well.
It was a wonderful party. To employ the old cliché, a good time was had by all. I especially had a good time when I got the check. It was about $80 U.S., generous tip included. And we didn’t even have to clean up. We just went home. Now that’s the way to celebrate an anniversary.