“I have been happy making those I love happy”.


I am 73 years old. I was born in Olesa de Montserrat and I live in Barcelona.
I am separated, I have 6 children and 7 grandchildren. I did not study, I belong to that
generation of women who were trained to be good housewives.
housewives. Equality and tolerance is my creed. I am a leftist. I was a practicing
practicing Catholic. Today I believe more in people than in what I do not see.

From whom did you learn to cook?
-From my parents. It was a simple house, but we already ate beans al dente. Before opening the grocery store they worked in textile factories, so they shared the housework and the attention I needed.
-That wasn't very common in those days.
-No, and I think that balance has served me well for the rest of my life.
-When did you discover that life is complicated?
-Very early. When I was seven years old, two of my brothers died in a very short time, one had just been born, the other was four years old. It was very painful. I became a sad and reflective child.
-And what about your adolescence?
-In the 1950s my parents decided to move to Barcelona so that their children -by then two more had already been born and one was still to come- would have more opportunities, and so it was. For my parents and me, who worked to bring them up, it was difficult to adapt. It was difficult for my parents and me, who worked to raise them, to adapt, and it was hard for us to move forward.
-When did you leave home?
-I fell in love very young, but it was years of waiting: waiting for everything to change, we wanted to change the regime, the society. We also wanted to be able to get married... it was a long road. I married when I was 21, we wanted to have many children.
-You had them.
-Six. Those were years of illusion and happiness until something broke. I had a big disappointment and decided to separate, I was around 40 years old, I felt unprepared to take the family forward, but whenever I have had difficulties I have always grown.
Your ex-husband did not take financial responsibility for your children?
-I didn't fight for it. When I thought he didn't love me anymore, I just wanted him to leave.
-You didn't go back to living as a couple?
-I told myself that I would never live in a couple again, that if having loved so much and having spent so many years, it had turned out so badly, it was impossible to repeat it: to love the same way again, to be so dependent on someone again.
-What is your conclusion about love?
-I admire couples who reach old age together loving each other, because it is very difficult.
-How did you support six children?
-I worked in real estate for some friends looking for investors, and when I was able to save a little I opened the restaurant. I knew how to cook, but not what a restaurant was. I thought I would do it as if I had friends coming over.
-Did it work out?
-Yes, it did. I think that to have a good restaurant you have to think that you are cooking for someone you love very much. You have to cook with love and a lot of honesty.
-Even so, it must not have been easy.
-I started with much less money than necessary, so it took a lot of effort, and that helped me, because I concentrated on doing it very well. In the beginning we were all women, some worked half days and some worked nights, so that they could run their home.
-A pioneer.
-Too bad, because eventually those double salaries became unfeasible for me. But that ladies' kitchen was delicious, there was enthusiasm, understanding and desire.
-And how did you manage with six children?
-I worked day and night, it was difficult.
-Didn't you feel guilty?
-That lack of motherhood when they got up and when they went to bed, we made up for it with a lot of conversation and trust.
-What has been difficult in life?
-I'm always happy with what I do, I put so much interest in living every day, in enjoying what I'm doing, that I'm fine. When I was 15 years old I used to say it was the best age, and at 30 too, and at 50; and now I say it too.
-I'm almost envious.
-It hasn't been easy, I've given up a lot of things, but it hasn't been hard because I've done it at ease, and that takes a lot of the hardness out of life. For me, opening the doors of the restaurant and having people come, not having to go looking for them, seems beautiful to me. Let's say that knowing that life is complicated, it's not so complicated.
-But he hasn't been satisfied.
-No, I forged my life, I forged my way but without bitterness. It has always given me the feeling that I was in front of a cart that I had to pull, but it has been nice to do it. And I have had many compensations.
-What is it about?
-I have a great time reading, learning is a pleasure for me and I have liked to surround myself with people better than me, precisely to learn from them. But when I was a housewife and instead of reading I had to make my children's dresses, I also had a good time, I didn't question life, I lived it.
-Haven't you ever felt lonely?
I have excellent long-standing friends, six wonderful children who have been the most interesting things in my life and seven grandchildren who fill me with joy.
-What are the great lessons that life has taught you?
-Understanding others, knowing how to listen. I have discovered that by making the people you love happy
people you love can be happy. And I think it's important to live in the present, the past only serves as a reference, and whatever is to come you will find it.
-What do you want for your grandchildren?
-I would like my grandchildren and all the grandchildren of the world to find a fairer and more egalitarian world, and to be able to enjoy the beauty of our land in peace.

Today is the day of La Mercè. A good date to congratulate Gaudí and all those who made possible the Palau de la Música, the Liceu..., and not to forget that having many 'fast foods' does not make us more cosmopolitan. But above all it is the day of all those anonymous people: post-war people, young people who had to live in a depressed and repressive country, a country in black and white. Honest people who did not study masters but with tenacity and illusion gave light to this city; with its restaurants, its stores, its dance halls, its theaters.People with values, tolerant and welcoming.
Congratulations and thank you.
Mercè Navarro is one of them.Her restaurant is 25 years old. The history of Roig Robí was a necessary dream and hers, a lesson of love.


La Vanguardia. La Contra

Text: Ima Sanchís