Celso y Manolo
The year is 1965. A boy of sixteen from the northern town of Cangas de Narcea, in Asturias, leaves his mining community and heads off to Spain’s capital. This sort of trip may be common nowadays, but back then it was an arduous journey indeed.
Our protagonist, Manolo, embraced calle Libertad wholeheartedly and made it his home for five decades. We don’t quite know what it was that attracted him to La Tasca de Pepe (“Pepe’s Tavern”), whether the name or the fact that Pepe was the owner, but in any case he started working there as an apprentice, loading boxes, pouring beer, serving customers, peeling potatoes, loading coal and filling up porrones—a traditional Spanish pitcher with a tapered spout that is used to pour wine, usually straight into the mouth.
One day after polishing off a plate of callos—a hearty tripe stew in a spicy paprika sauce that is one of Madrid’s most typical dishes—Pepe announced that he was retiring. Manolo, ever restless and enterprising (he is similar to Carlos in that way, just between you and me), took over ownership of the bar. He asked his mother to sign the bank guarantee (we did the same, just ask our mum) and brought along his brother Celso. They gave the restaurant a new name: Taberna Argüelles—not, as some might guess, after the neighbourhood of Argüelles, but because it happened to be their surname.