Stories About Spain
The Warm and Welcoming Spirit of Spain
Written by: Jonathan Harris
In our warehouse last week, I watched all the orders come gliding down the rollers, crates filled with Galician bread, sliced jamón, paella kits and turrón candy ready to be delivered for Christmas celebrations. As an owner of La Tienda, I had the privilege to spend a few days working in quality control in the warehouse, inspecting each order to make sure the right products were included. It was fun to see all the foods, ceramics and cookware that our family sourced from Spain going out to homes across the country.
Overall, I felt a profound sense of gratitude to all our customers for the trust they put in our family and our amazing team to deliver a taste of Spain to their homes. It still amazes me, 26 years after we started La Tienda, that we continue to be able to share our passion for Spain and her amazing products with you.
My father, Don, fell in love with Spain decades ago, when he was a young Navy chaplain. One day his ship docked in Valencia in the middle of the astonishing Las Fallas celebration, a multi-day celebration of drumming and fireworks, paella contests and giant sculptures that are paraded through the streets then set aflame in the grand finale. But my father was more impressed with the warm and welcoming people he met in the tapas bars and markets of the city. He was particularly impressed with the sense of family and community, how children were included in every gathering and the intimate way he was treated, even though he was a stranger.
In the 1970s, our family moved to Andalucía, to the beautiful ocean front town of El Puerto de Santa María. Spain is prosperous now, but at the time Andalucía was a poor region. Yet we encountered the same gracious and welcoming spirit Don had experienced years earlier in Valencia. He recently told me the story of visiting the local food market, walking from stall to stall admiring the displays of seafood, cured meats and fresh fruit. He picked out some local shrimp, langostinos de Sanlúcar, and reached for his wallet to pay the fishmonger. He realized he had left his wallet at home and asked the vendor if he could hold the shrimp for him. The man wouldn’t hear of it, gave Dad the langostinos and said he could pay later. Then he handed him ‘un mil,’ one thousand pesetas, so that Don could finish his shopping at the other stalls! This generosity left a deep impression on my father that lasts to this day.
Over the years we’ve developed close relationships with producers in Spain, and some of our Spanish friends have even sent their children to live with our family in Virginia. I am so thankful for these wonderful friendships, and for our ability to support authentic food traditions in Spain. And I am grateful for our amazing team who works so hard to make sure every box is packed well, every phone call and email is answered and every problem is taken care of. And, most of all, I am so privileged to run the company with my parents and brothers every day.
But none of this could happen without your support. So, on this special holiday weekend, I want to thank you for trusting us to deliver Spain to your home. We hope you experience the warm and welcoming spirit of Spain during your celebrations this Christmas!
From all of us at La Tienda, ¡Felíz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo!
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"I was based in Rota about the time your dad was there.1972-1976. Met my wife there. We’ve been married over 48 years now. Will be traveling to Rota this summer for a long visit."
"Muy feliz de escuchar tu historia!Estoy estudiando espanol y me encanta leer tus historias sobre Espana!Feliz Navidad!"
"I studied for four months in Madrid in 1976. Made wonderful Spanish friends who put myself and my spouse up during our numerous visits. Reading history books on Spain and being a longtime La Tienda customer always reinforce those wonderful thoughts. One of my daughters studied in both Tarragona and Salamanca. Spain changed my life."
"How wonderful, thank you for sharing your experiences! "