"The tavern is a popular place, a simple establishment with a warm atmosphere that makes you feel at home. I am an innkeeper since the year 40 and I started when I was 10 years old, then we were early men since in my time the trades began from a very young age. I'm in love with the tavern." Amadeo Lázaro Catalina is 94 years old and was born on March 31, 1929 in Adrada de Haza, Burgos; is the owner of Casa Amadeo Los Caracoles, a traditional tavern located in the center of the city, in the Plaza de Cascorro.
This restaurant of traditional cuisine was founded in 1942 and has a family atmosphere with a vintage style, of those places that as soon as you enter you are sure that you are going to eat well. "The Madrilenian who arrives here asks for the snails without thinking, but the tourist feels a little confused, and that's what we professionals are for: to inform, guide them on what to choose, and to dip the bread in the snail sauce," laughs Amadeo. The tavern acquires the snails through two organic farms, one located in Arenas de San Pedro and the other in Cadalso de los Vidrios. In total they spend more than a ton of mollusks per month. "Culturally speaking, the snail at the continental level is very dear. In Italy and France they eat it a lot, and in Spain a little more, ha." In addition to the snails, they have a wide variety of rations among which battered cod, zarajos, tripe, squid, torreznos and the mythical black pudding of Burgos stand out.
There are many taverns in Madrid but few have maintained their essence over the years. "I defend the world of the tavern because I have believed and continue to believe that a tavern is everyone's home. There we grow with the university of coexistence, exchange, you learn from me and I learn from you." Amadeo believes that with the passage of time that tavern culture was lost, but at the same time he understands it for all the technological progress that there was. "Today the culture of the tavern is a bit lost, I would love it to recover. But it is true that this came hand in hand with the advances of civilization, before there was no television, there was no radio, we did not have a mobile, there were no distractions that there are today. Unfortunately, we communicate less." However, the snail lover believes that the tavern spirit can still be reborn.
The snail can be accompanied with beer, white wine, or "whatever you want," says Amadeo. However, he emphasizes that the important thing is to know how to eat it. "The snail must be tasted, turned like candy, and as I always say affectionately, sip like a kiss." The Burgos native believes that the fundamental thing to be successful and a good clientele in these places, in addition to having good cuisine, is to be a good person: "Serving people well, being close, sociable, respectful, is fundamental. My satisfaction is that of the customers." The tavern is open from 9 to 13 Monday to Friday and on weekends "it stretches a little more".
"You know what's the best thing about cooking, don't you know? Well, the sauce. Do you know what's the best thing in life? You don't know it either, because it's the sauce." And he finishes: "What about love? It's also the sauce," jokes Amadeo, a lover of dipping bread in snail sauce. Currently his children and grandchildren are responsible for keeping alive the flame of the place and he accompanies in what he can, which is not little, because he has 81 years of tavern experience.
While talking about his love for snails, a neighbor in his seventies passed by the street of the tavern and assured that "the best snails to eat in Madrid are here, the unforgettable snails of Cascorro". These are the kind of gestures that make man happy. "My life has been simple and I like sincerity, I like sociability, I like to add and not divide, I like to love and respect." Amadeo Lázaro, 94 years old, alive and kicking, and partly thanks to his delicious snails.