NEW: the first Saturday of the month I am spotlighting a guest to tell a story. A story or memory related to food, culture, tradition, and family.

Saturday Story Spotlight: Grandpa’s Popcorn

Meet Oscar Garcia. He was born in Montevideo, Uruguay and moved to the United States when he was 32 years old.

I meet Oscar when my family and I moved to the U.S at age 6. He was the first to cut my hair in this new country and the rest is history. His warm heart and artful skill keep my hair alive and soul uplifted after every visit. Read until The End ! Surprise ending!

Story: GRANDPA’s POPCORN

“Every Sunday we’ll do something different,” my grandpa said, I think he was trying to make me feel good about living with him. I was 7 years old at that time, and I wanted to learn everything, I was a curious kid. I wanted to be involved in everything he did, whether it was collecting eggs, learning how to kill a chicken, planting seeds for his garden, going to our little town’s state fair or my favorite, going to the bars and singing tangos.

I was always so excited when it was Sunday. Grandpa was a very good story teller, funny and creative. He knew how to entertain me. I went to the kitchen after breakfast, and grandpa said, “have I told you about the time when I helped the army track the thieves who stole the cows from our neighborhood ranchers?”

He started the story as he put something in a frying pan and put the lid on it.

“No, you didn’t,” I said,” Why did they ask YOU for help?”Because I can find cows and I speak their language,” he said.

Then he continued in Spanish, “one day the soldiers came to my little farm in Mercedes, where I lived when I was young, and begged me to help them find the thieves that stole their cows. I got on my horse and told them to follow me.

I tracked the cows by “reading” their footprints. I guided them for days through rain and mud, and after many days I found the thieves.

They were hiding behind a small mountain with the stolen cows. The commander realized that the thieves were trapped and told me to tell them to surrender or we would start shooting.”

My grandpa imitated the shooting sounds for me, my ears couldn’t believe the sounds! I had so many questions.

He kindly answered my questions, smiling and laughing out loud, tapping my hand when I got too exited. In the middle of his story, I glanced at the pan on the stove. The smell seemed familiar, a particular aroma, as I had smelled before, like… POPCORN, I found myself going back and forth between the story and the pan.

“Are you paying attention?” my grandpa asked. “yes, yes,” I replied. He started again, “I yelled at the thieves: there’s no way out! Give yourself up!” His voice resonated throughout the house. “I could see the thieves with their rifles ready” he said. “We are ready to start shooting too,” the thieves yelled.

“The soldiers were getting tense and so were the thieves, but we were being very careful, so we waited… and waited,”

At that moment, I heard the POPPING sound coming from the frying pan, as my grandpa said, “And that’s when the shooting began!” He pointed with his fingers as if to aim and shoot, yelling, “they are shooting back at us” he said. The POP, POP, POP from the pan became the sound of the shooting, and there I was, with my Grandpa, in the field, side by side, surrounded by soldiers, dodging bullets, and the smell of gun powder and popcorn was everywhere, and I was in the story, I was there, sweating and yelling, as the sound of bullets passed over our heads.

If there was a moment when I was transported to another place, that was it for me, that was the day that I learned that any situation can become a story, and when grandpa made popcorn it

wasn’t just a story, it was a memory.

Based on a true story like all the stories my grandpa made up.

Brought to you with love,

Elena