Audomaro Castro

A Family Shares Paella

Helen Marak Walker Article, Front Porch Flyer

Mueller social media offers many occasions for “uber” neighborly connections that are in keeping with the lore and legend of the Mueller community experience. It was one such posting that especially highlighted “radical Mueller hospitality” and exemplified just one way in which our Muellertopia neighbors promote community.

Last June, Veronica Castro de Barrera posted something extraordinary. With a simple affirmative response, one was invited to experience a mouthwatering gastronomical feast of paella—a Spanish dish of rice, saffron, chicken, pork, and seafood, cooked and served in a large shallow pan.

There was no “catch” and one simply had to designate one of three paella choices. Leaping at this offer, many neighbors signed up and were invited to come by the Barreras’ home to either eat in their home or take home to their families.
This radical Mueller hospitality experience began with her father, 78-year-old Audomaro Castro, wanting to celebrate Father’s Day with Veronica and her family. He drove 18 hours over two days on the journey from Queretaro, Mexico, to Austin. When Veronica asked him what he wanted for Father’s Day, he said, “How about you buy the ingredients for paella so I can teach my grandchildren (Andrea and Sebastian) the recipe, and you can invite your neighbors over for dinner?”

A carefully folded but very worn piece of paper holds the ingredients for the family paella recipe. Veronica’s dad has carried the recipe in his shirt pocket for nearly 10 years. These ingredients hold the secret to the intoxicating mix of saffron and other spices, onions, tomatoes, and garlic that wafted and greeted neighbors at the door to lure them inside.

Veronica shares, “My father has been making paella for over five decades and owned Polainas, a restaurant in which the

traditional paella valenciana was the special Sunday dish. When he suggested inviting our neighbors, I thought then it would be great for families who didn’t want to cook or go out for Father’s Day to order paella for the fathers in their lives.” And that’s how the idea to invite neighbors to share the feast was born.

“My father and I had no idea so many neighbors would be so enthusiastic about the paella. We were honestly thinking that only a handful of families would be interested.”Veronica Castro

But 120 servings of paella later and this became the paella Father’s Day of a lifetime! Truly this was an example of radical Mueller hospitality and an unforgettable experience for Mr. Castro, Veronica, their family, and the neighbors of Mueller.

In closing, this “radical” act of paella sharing has inspired others to also share family recipes such as pies and cinnamon rolls and Belgian waffles, but then that is for another story.