It All Started with a Paella Pan

Things can escalate quickly

It all started, as these things often do, with a well-intentioned gift.

Marcia received a secret-Santa gift from one of her co-workers.  At first Marcia didn’t even know what it was, but another co-worker helped read the printing on the box.

It was a paella pan.

Marcia didn’t know what a paella pan was, but she was impressed with the weight of it.  The pan seemed to be of good quality, and obviously more expensive than the $20 limit set for the gift exchange.  (In truth, the anonymous co-worker who had given it to her was re-gifting a wedding gift that she’d never used.)

The paella pan duly came home with Marcia.  Her husband, Scott, looked askance at the pan.  This, he knew, could mean big trouble.

Marcia looked up paella pans online.  She was intrigued to learn that “paella” is a Valencian word derived from the Latin term for “pan.”  She searched online for paella recipes.  There were so many varieties, but she settled on Paella Valenciana (which itself had so many varieties—she just chose the one with ingredients she figured she could manage.)

So far so good.

To do justice to the Paella Valenciana and the high-quality pan, Marcia invited another couple for dinner.  Richard and Janine, Marcia knew, had recently been on a Mediterranean cruise, which had included ports of call in Spain.

Marcia made the Paella Valenciana, and Richard and Janine praised it as authentic.  (Actually, they had not tried paella in Spain, nor any other Spanish dish, because both had been a bit sea-sick during that part of their cruise.)

The three of them agreed (Scott was silent) that the only thing that would have enhanced the dish was Spanish wine.

Flushed with the dinner’s success, Marcia was eager to repeat the experience.  She made several more varieties of paella, before branching out to gazpacho, pisto, and Calamares a La Romana.  She hunted online for suggested wine pairings, to lend authenticity to her meals.

As she extended her repertoire, Marcia found she needed to supplement the paella pan with a few other kitchen gadgets (Scott began to groan.)  Then she found a Spanish Living magazine, bursting with ideas she hadn’t even considered.

Well!  After the kitchen was remodelled, in Mediterranean tones and terra-cotta floor, Marcia began to feel like she was living in Spain.

Of course, living in a kitchen that looks like it could be in Spain, is not the same as being in actual Spain.  (Scott began drinking at this point.)

Marcia booked a one-month holiday at a “charming villa with Mediterranean views” in Marbella, Spain.  She bought a few guidebooks on Spain, and also a Rosetta Stone course on basic Spanish.  She also bought, naturally, new clothes.

On the flight to Spain, Marcia read excitedly from a guidebook, while Scott looked morosely out the window and ordered more drinks.

At the Spanish villa, a woozy Scott made the fatal mistake of admitting that the perfume from the bougainvillea blossoms wafting in the villa’s window was “kinda nice” (he’d made his way through the villa’s well-stocked mini-bar by then, and felt mellow and agreeable—a colossal error in judgement.)

And that was when Marcia started using the free wifi at the rental villa to look at houses for sale in Spain.

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