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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019


Salvador Dalì's Pan (Bread), Pa en Catalan, Pa de Figueres (Girona)

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Salvador Dalì claimed, "Bread has been one of the oldest subjects of fetishism and obsessions in my work, the number one, the one to which I have been most faithful." 

The distinctive shape of the local pa de crostons
or triangular-shaped bread of Figueres, Salvador Dalì's hometown.

Once ubiquitous in the Empordà region of Catalunya, pa de crostons was Dalì's inspiration for the decorative biege concrete "breads" that decorate the façade of the museum the Salvador Dalì Museum in Figueres (Girona), Catalunya. 

Short Slide Show of pa de crostons and the façade of the Salvador Dalì Museum in Figueres.

The Dalí museum (his final resting place--his tomb is in the museum) is studded with hundreds of representations of the pa de crostons three-cornered breads that meant so much to Dalì in his youth.  (Is Dalì's bread the equivalent of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane's "Rosebud" ?)

Pa de crostons in a shop near the Salvador Dalì Museum in Figueres. As a child, Dalì would hollow out the bottom of one of these pas de crostons and wear it as a hat, which some have likened to a bullfighter's montera (which has only two lobe-like projections).  As an adult, Dalì sometimes appeared with a large flat, sombrero-like circular bread (not pa de croston) on his head and the pan-on-the-head theme appears in numerous Dalì paintings.

Salvador Dalí (Spanish, 1904-1989). The Basket of Bread, 1926. Oil on panel. 13 x 12 1/2 in. (33 x 31.8 cm).
The Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida. © The Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc.

One of his famous paintings, the Zurbaràn-like Basket of Bread, is of the rather ordinary pan (bread) of the Spain, not pa de crostons

From Gerry Dawes's Visual Encyclopedia of Spanish Gastronomy & Wine


Chinchón II: Lunch at Mesón de la Virreina, A Memory From a February Lunch Long Ago

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My first trip to Chinchón was way back in February of 1971 with my old friends, Edwin J. Mullens III and Bill and Betty Pearson from Clarksdale, Mississippi.  It was a very cold day, so lunch at Mesón de la Virreina  in the upstairs dining room next to the fireplace at a table by the windows that overlooked La Plaza Mayor was especially welcome, cozy and memorable.   I still recall that I had alubias con chorizo (beans with chorizo), chuletillas de cordero (baby lamb chops) and the local red wine (now from the D.O. Vinos de Madrid).  

With dessert, flan and leche frita, I ordered café con leche and brandy snifters of anís (anís liqueur) de Chinchón, which we sipped as we lingered by the fire in some other-time, other- place reverie.  That day is still a cherished memory.

Leche frita flambeed with anis de Chinchón, El Mesón de la Virreina, Chinchón.


About Gerry Dawes 

Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. 

Dawes was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
A trailer from a proposed reality television series with Gerry Dawes  
on gastronomy, wine, culture and travel in Spain.


Miguel de Cervantes Monument in Madrid's Plaza España with Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Rocinante, Dulcinea & Aldonza

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Don Quixote on Rocinante, the Cervantes monument in La Plaza de España in Madrid
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2011. Contact

The Cervantes monument was designed by architects Rafael Martínez Zapatero and Pedro Muguruza. 
The sculptor was Lorenzo Coullaut Valera. Much of the monument was built from 1925 to 1930, 
but it was not completed until 1956-1957 by Federico Coullaut-Valera Mendigutia, Lorenzo Coullaut's son.
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2011. Contact

The idealized Dulcinea from Don Quixote, the Cervantes monument in La Plaza de España in Madrid. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2011. Contact

The idealized Dulcinea the Cervantes monument in La Plaza de España in Madrid. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2011. Contact
Don Quixote: ". . .for her hairs are gold, her forehead Elysian fields, her eyebrows rainbows, her eyes suns, her cheeks roses, her lips coral, her teeth pearls, her neck alabaster, her bosom marble, her hands ivory, her fairness snow, and what modesty conceals from sight such, I think and imagine, as rational reflection can only extol, not compare." 

Aldonza Lorenzo, the peasant girl Don Quixote was once enamored of is morphed into the imaginary Dulcinea in Don Quixote's mind.  Aldonza on the Cervantes monument in La Plaza de España in Madrid.
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2011. Contact

"I know her well," said Sancho (Panza, of Aldonza), "and let me tell you she can fling a crowbar as well as the lustiest lad in all the town. Giver of all good! but she is a brave lass, and a right and stout one, and fit to be helpmate to any knight-errant that is or is to be, who may make her his lady: the whoreson wench, what sting she has and what a voice!  I can tell you one day she posted herself on the top of the belfry of the village to call some labourers of theirs that were in a ploughed field of her father's, and though they were better than half a league off they heard her as well as if they were at the foot of the tower. . .

(Slide show. Double click on lower left corner to go to Picasa and see it enlarged.)

More on Cervantes:

Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain  

Gerry Dawes can be reached at; Alternate e-mail (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected):


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