I’ve known Rafael almost forever and he is without a doubt one of my favourite people in Sevilla. Some of you might recognise him as “the best jamón cutter in town” from posts on my blog and instagram. He is also the person who changed my life in terms of sherry by one day giving me a glas of VORS palo cortado by Bodegas Tradición, which led to me going on to become a Sherry Educator. But I know him best as just one of the loveliest guys ever, always willing to chat and share his stories about growing up in Sevilla.
Back in June I noticed that I hadn’t seen Rafael at his usual jamón cutting station at Las Teresas (aka My Happy Place) for some time, but assumed he was on summer holidays. Then July came and still no sign of him, so I asked where he was. Turned out he had suffered a heart attack (!!!) and was on medical leave of absence, which has since turned into retirement. But I was told he was fine and still popped by the bar most days, usually in the early afternoon.
So of course I was thrilled to run into him at Teresas this week. I think it was the first time I’d ever seen him without his usual white shirt and dark tie “uniform” and, while he looked a bit thinner he insisted that he was feeling fine and enjoying his early retirement. It’s funny how some people can feel like such an important part of your life even though they aren’t actually “close friends” as such. So while I know I will continue to miss seeing Rafael behind the bar, I am so happy and relieved that he is okay and doing well. Though my Happy Place won’t be the same without him.