I was around 7 when one of my aunts decided to open up an ice cream place.

My uncle was always a politician and my aunt was a stay at home mom, like most of my mom’s sisters. But my aunt Maritza couldn’t stay still and needed to do something with her life.

I was so excited when the ice cream café opened. Not only because of the ice cream but because my aunt would let me help behind the counter. My favourite was always the banana split. One banana slide in half and in between three balls of ice cream: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. On top a ton of whipped cream and on top of that you could add chocolate sauce or butterscotch or strawberry syrup or/and sprinkle peanuts or chocolate chips or sprinkle those sugar sprinkles. And the best was topping in all with a cherry

The ice cream café was right on a corner, near Lela’s house. I remember being a huge space, and it was in one of the buildings owned by Lelo – my grandfather. Previously it had been part of a school where the pool was. I remember it was all in white tiles and all tables had colored umbrellas. The counter was also very large and the wall had mirrors.

Beside banana splits, you could order Sundays and Milkshakes, coffee, pop and sandwiches. One simply but popular sandwich was made with white bread cheese, ham and a pink sauce (golf sauce) made from mixing ketchup and mayonnaise. The sandwich would be grilled and cut in triangle.

I remember my aunt running the place and the place being packed at nights.

Across the street from the ice cream place, my aunt also owned a little hole in the wall where you could get churros. I also had the privilege, I felt, that I could go behind the counter to help. The churros were made with the dough passed through the huge red machine. The dough would come from one end and come out in churros form to go directly into the deep flyer. Once ready and bagged cinnamon sugar was added and shake to get it all well distributed all over the churros.

There was also churro you can fill with Arequipa sauce or chocolate. I remember the warm crunchy sweet dough being so delicious.

At my aunts house I remember tasting for the first time Lebanese food. My uncle was of Lebanese decent so my aunt and my cousins had grown up eating lebanese food. Kibbeh was their favourite and I also remember eating hummus and the tabouleh. My aunt learnt to make it. For a small town, Villa de Cura had a very diverse population. The “Arabes” or “Turkcos” as they were called, came to the town in the 50-60s and especially after the 6-day war in Lebanon. In La Villa most Lebanese people owned small shops or repair shops.