Growing up I was very close to my Dad. He was always a lot of fun; we went to the beach together, Chuck E. Cheese, the movies and to eat ice cream at the Howard Johnson's in el Condado. He took my sister, Lisa, and I to Disney World for the first time when I was a nine year old and I have countless great memories visiting my Grandparents in Ponce and going on fun road trips around the island with him. Even though he wasn't there for me on a daily basis (since my parents were divorced) he made the best out of our time together and I was always looking forward to seeing him every other weekend. It was like having a mini vacation twice a month. I don't remember ever having fights with my Dad when I was younger or he ever enforcing any discipline. Well, now that I think about it, there was just one time that he disciplined both Lisa and I while we were vacationing in Sierra Nevada, Spain...Boy was he mad that day! But, the truth of the matter is that other than that one occasion, discipline always came from the females in my family; my Dad was hardly the disciplinary type.
My Father the Hero
I remember having fun and sometimes deep conversations with my Dad, especially while doing something completely random like going to the supermarket or gardening in the backyard. In life there are three things you have to do, Nina. You have to plant a tree, write a book and, when you get older, have a child. I guess I was probably a teenager then, so I just thought he was getting in one of his philosophical moods. I also remember my Dad explaining a Serrat song to me once; after breaking up with my first serious boyfriend in High School; or taking all of us out for dinner when I had my period for the first time to welcome the new woman in the house. As you can imagine, being a twelve year old, I just wanted to hide under the table at the restaurant...I was so embarrassed! But now that I have kids and already planted several trees, I can understand that maybe by these small and sometimes existential conversations were his way of giving me a life lesson and playing the fatherly role. I loved that about him and to this day, he still sits down with a glass of wine while listening to Joaquin Sabina and still explains the lyrics to her 34 year old daughter. After all, I will always be his daughter and he will always be my Dad, no matter how old we get in this life.
Today, I get to see Enrico as a Father and I see a little bit of my Dad in him. Enrico comes home in the afternoons from a long day at work and always finds time to play with the kids, dance around the house, teach them songs from our generation and play outside with our children. Just yesterday I found them dancing to KISS's Rock & Roll all Nite; definitely no existential lyrics to explain here, but then again, our kids are only two and four year olds!
Both Lucia and Joaquin see Enrico as their hero. When it comes to discipline, we both discipline our children, since we have a completely different reality here; plus I love that together, we make a great team to help domesticate our little ones! Even though we are both firm and we both enforce discipline around the house, it is obvious to me how Lucia and Joaquin go ga-ga for their Dad. Sometimes I wonder if I were the one working out of site, would they see me as their hero too? I honestly think, it is a Dad thing.
These days, Fathers have taken a more hands on role compared to our parents generation. These days, Fathers clean, swipe, mop, bathe their kids, change diapers and discipline. Both Enrico and my Dad are very different, but they do share some similarities as parents. They are both hard workers and dedicated Fathers, they will always find time in their busy schedules to have a talk or find that special moment to teach a life lesson; and most importantly, they will always be their kids' heroes.
Today, I can say that I have almost lived a complete life (according to Papi); I have planted some trees, have two kids and although I have not published a book, week after week I write this blog, that even though it is not a book, it is filled with the most beautiful memories of my family and my two little treasures, my children. Ay Mama!
For today's recipe, one of both Enrico and my Dad's favorite recipes: Patatas Bravas. Enjoy!
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-4 large Russet potatoes, peeled, and cut to 1-inch cubes
-2 tablespoons minced onion
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-Salt and freshly ground black pepper
-1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
-1/4 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
-1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
-1/2 cup Ketchup
-1/2 cup light mayo (Hellmann's Light Mayo with the light blue cap)
-Chopped parsley, to garnish
-1 cup olive oil for frying
Heat olive oil and sautee onions and garlic over medium heat until soft (around 5 minutes). Remove from heat and add Tabasco, thyme and paprika. Set aside.
Mix light mayo and ketchup together and add the paprika sauce to it. Mix well. Set aside.
Season raw potatoes with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add potatoes. Fry them until golden and crisp; around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Drain olive oil and while hot, mix the potatoes with the mayo sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot. Buen provecho!