Share This Gerry Dawes's Spain Post


In 2019, again ranked in the Top 50 Gastronomy Blogs and Websites for Gastronomists & Gastronomes in 2019 by Feedspot. "The Best Gastronomy blogs selected from thousands of Food blogs, Culture blogs and Food Science. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with . . . high-quality information. (Last Updated Oct 23, 2019)

Over 1,150,000 views since inception, 16,000+ views in January 2020.

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


"Men! You always want more, even when you're skinning the poor by tearing down a block of old houses to make nice new ones." - - Fortunata y Jacinta, Benito Pérez Galdós

* * * * *

Cover: Detail from Chica in a Bar (1892) by Ramón Casas, 
in El Museo de la Abadía, Montserrat (Photo: The Bridgeman Art Library)

“. . . Since you tear things down, do you have any rubble, yes or no?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact I do. . .and some magnificent flint (slate).  Sixty reales (a unit of Spanish money) the cartful, all you want.  The rubble is eight reales a--Oh, I'm so stupid!  Now I know what it's all about.  The great saint (philantropist Guillermina Pacheco) is bamboozling you with stories about the orphanage she's going to build. . .You've got to be careful with her tricks, very careful.  Before she's laid a stone she'll have us all in the poorhouse."

"Shhh!  We all know how stingy you are.  I'm not asking your for anything anyway, you old miser.  You can have your carts of flint (slate).  They'll put them on the scales with you when the final accounting starts; you know, when the trumpets start to play.  Oh yes, and then when you see how much your stinginess weighs on the scales, you'll say, "Lord, take away these cartloads of stone and rubble that are plunging me into Hell,' and we'll all say, 'Oh no. Pile it on, because he's very wicked.'"

"All I have to do is put the money you've squeezed out of me on the other side of the scales and I'm saved," Moreno laughed, patting her face. 

"Don't humor me, my dear nephew. That won't get you anywhere, you big cheat, swindler, miser!"  Guillermina was smiling, and her tone was benevolent.  "Men!  You always want more, even when you're skinning the poor by tearing down a block of old houses to make nice new ones." - - Guillermina Pacheco in Fortunata y Jacinta, Benito Pérez Galdós's incredible novel of life and social commentary in 19th Century Spain, centered in Madrid.  The Penguin Books translation by Agnes Moncy Gullón is exceptional.

The Passing of My Old Friend Don Clarke, Artist Par Excellence, in Mijas, (Málaga), Spain Jan. 16, 2012. Que Decanses en Paz, Don.

* * * * *

My old friend English artist Don Clarke in his studio in Mijas (Málaga), Spain on Feb. 15, 2010.
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010 /

Looking Back on the Wines of La Mancha, The Wine News, Oct.-Nov. 2003

* * * * *

La Mancha, text and photos by Gerry Dawes, The Wine News, Page 50,
October/November 2003. (Pages 50-56; Page 53 was an advertisement.)

The rest of the La Mancha wine article.
(Double click on the images to enlarge.


Decency because you wear something called a frock coat! What a farce humanity is. The poor always the underdogs, the rich doing as they please. I’m rich. I’m frivolous, I know it. -- Juanito Santa Cruz in Fortunata y Jacinta, Benito Pérez Galdós Epic Novel of 19th Century Spain

* * * * *

Cover: Detail from Chica in a Bar (1892) by Ramón Casas, 
in El Museo de la Abadía, Montserrat (Photo: The Bridgeman Art Library)

“Let’s face it: the truth should come first, before everything else.  She worshiped me.  She thought I wasn’t like everyone else; that I was the essence of a gentleman, and breeding, and decency, and nobility, in person; the end-all of men. . .Nobility!  What a joke!  Nobility in my lies.  It can’t be, I tell you.  It simply can’t.  Decency because you wear something called a frock coat!  What a farce humanity is. The poor always the underdogs, the rich doing as they please.  I’m rich.  I’m frivolous, I know it. 

The picturesque charm was wearing off.  If it is charming, crudeness is seductive for a while, but then it makes you sick at your stomach.  The burden I’d taken on was heavier every day.  The smell of garlic was starting to disgust me.  I even wished–and believe me, it’s the truth–that Pitusa were worthless so I could give her the gate. . . but, no, she wasn’t one of those.  Her worthless?  Not on your life.  If I’d told her to throw herself into a fire she would’ve plunged in head first.”  - - Juanito Santa Cruz, a character in Fortunata y Jacinta, a 19th Century Spanish novel by Benito Pérez Galdós, relating his affair with Pitusa (Fortunata), an affair that took place before he was married, to his wife, Jacinta.  This soul searching encounter takes place in an inn in Sevilla on their honeymoon after Jacinta coaxes the story out of Juanito.

“The common people are very naive. . ." from Fortunata y Jacinta by Benito Pérez Galdós

* * * * * 

Cover: Detail from Chica in a Bar (1892) by Ramón Casas, 
in El Museo de la Abadía, Montserrat (Photo: The Bridgeman Art Library)
“The common people are very naive, they’re just plain stupid.  They’ll believe anything you tell them as long as you use pretty words.  She fell for me, hook, line, and sinker, and I just walked off with her honor–thought nothing of it.  Men, us señoritos I mean, are a rotten lot; we think that the honor of a village girl is just a toy for us. . .And after having my fun with her, I left her to fend for herself, in the gutter. . .like a bitch.  Didn’t I?” - -  Juanito Santa Cruz to his wife, Jacinta, characters in Fortunata y Jacinta, a 19th Century Spanish novel by Benito Pérez Galdós.


Blue Hill at Stone Barns with Alicante Chef María José San Román, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2012 Slide Show

* * * * *

María José San Román serving her arroz a banda 'Taberna'
(paella with shrimp and fresh squid from La Taberna del Gourmet in Alicante)
at the Jaleo Crystal City Paella Festival opening party in 2010.
All photographs by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact for publication rights.

Slide show, lunch at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
Double click on images for enlarged view.

(Full captions to follow.)

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. He 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. 
Trailer for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.


Ferran Adría, Salvador Dalí and Fried Egg on the Plate without the Plate

* * * * *

Ouefs Sur le Plat (Fried Egg on the Plate without the Plate).

From Dalí's Ouefs Sur le Plat (Fried Egg on the Plate without the Plate), we may be seeing a painting that could have inspired Catalan super-star chef, Ferran Adría, to pass over into a new dimension of food with such dishes as a mango "egg yolk" served on a Chinese spoon, ravioli de mango, melón caviar (a ringer for samon caviar, made from melón puree dropped into a calcium chloride solution), spaghetto de parmesano (two yards plus of spaghetto made from Parmesan cheese), etc., all dishes that Dalí would have understood instantly. (Also see Memories of the Superb 2005 Dalí Exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.)


The Amazing Parkenstein Chronicles from Ron Washam, The HoseMaster of Wine

* * * * *

Ron Washam, the HoseMaster of Wine, and His Incredible Parkenstein.

Go to The HoseMaster of Wine blog and read the entire parody and the follow-up comments, many of which are hilarious.

As with all parodies, satires and send-ups, there is more than a grain of truth.  In 'Parkenstein,' there is a vast cornfield stretching as far as the eye can see--and it has all gone to seed.  Pancho Campo MW, Parkenstein's partner in (alleged) vigorish skimming, should thank his lucky stars that the Ron Washam, HMW is not as familiar with his story on the Spanish side of the pond.

(The emphasis and underscoring are mine--GD.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Monkton, MD, 20 October, 20__

My Dearest Sister,

And so it was that I made the acquaintance of Robert Parkenstein on my stop in Maryland. He was washed up on shore, but, then, I was later to learn that he had been washed up for a very long time, a victim of his nefarious scheme to defy Creation and play God himself. And as we were marooned in the God-forsaken shithole that is Monkton, my ship awaiting better weather, the storm blowing harder than a Michelle Bachman speech, I heard the horrifying and sad story that is Parkenstein’s. We had long hours to talk, and I came to feel sorry for him, though it was simple hubris that destroyed him. That and his mortuarial creation. I will tell his story in his words as I remember them, though his breath was most foul, smelling of hedonism and Gruner Veltliner, and it was hard to be in a small room with him as he had the figure and charm of a beanbag chair.

I became fascinated with power, Parkenstein told me, and the more power I accumulated, the more I felt this feverish desire to transfer it to another being, to give power to a cipher of my own creation. The thought obsessed me. Yes, I had created monsters before, horrible monsters—Turleystein and Rollandstein and that hideous Kranklstein—but they had life before I gave them power. I wanted to start from scratch. I wanted to give life and power. And I believed I could do it. There was nothing I couldn’t do, aside from duplicate my scores in a blind setting.

I set about obtaining parts for my creation. I thought it would be difficult, this assembling a windbag, this scavenging for a bag for my douche, but it wasn’t. There was Craigslist. “Man seeking body parts,” read my ad, “won’t pay an arm and a leg.” In less than a day I was overwhelmed with offers. A man in Napa Valley offered me the head of his late father, but he wanted 100 points in exchange, and I don’t trade points for money, I trade them for integrity. But I had mountains of body parts to choose from, and I selected carefully and, I believed, wisely.

I worked day and night, removing the parts from my freezer as I needed them, at one point mistaking a fish stick for a penis. I was so crazed I forgot to change it. It was only later, when it was alive, that I noticed him sticking packets of tartar sauce from H. Salt down his pants hoping to attract someone horny and hungry, and let the chips fall where they may. Time was of the essence, for as the parts thawed, my house began to smell like corruption. Little did I know…Parkenstein toasts his Creation--the HORROR!!   

Finally, he was assembled. I beheld my creation. To me, he was beautiful. Perfect for the life and power I intended to bestow upon him. He was bulky, I confess, a nod to my own physique, a visual clue that the good life is about overindulgence, and, more importantly, the unquenchable need to talk about it, to rub it in the faces of my followers, to write endlessly of gluttony and debauchery with the eloquence to make it seem desirable and admirable in a world of starving people, and people who would sell body parts to a madman for a pittance just to buy a bottle of one of my Best Buys Under $20. I’d used the arms and hands of a maitre-d’ to give him the natural gift of taking handouts and bribes. I’d found the brain, only slightly used, of a fellow hedonist who’d gone insane, and I took it, leaving him still functioning, yet no one could tell his skull was empty because it had always appeared that way, and never more so than recently. So with my creation’s head full of Suckling, I had to find the right nose. The nose, the most important part of my monster, the part that would define him. I had to carefully pick my nose. Hell, I thought, I know how to do that, I was once an attorney.

And so it was that I gave him the nose of a Bassett Hound. It just made sense. His nose would be sensitive, powerful, and forever in my butt, where there’s plenty of room for everyone. I was ready to give him life.

To be continued...

Posted by Ron Washam, HMW at 3:45 PM 35 comments

Monday, January 2, 2012
PARKENSTEIN! Part the Second
Monkton, MD, 22 October 20__

My Dearest Sister,

Parkenstein had been the most powerful critic in his field, feared as a man fears his God, his every proclamation a Judgment Day on a 100 Point Scale, his commandments followed assiduously if not asininely. Thou shalt not filter, nor fine, nor covet thy neighbor’s bunghole. Thou shalt not worship false Gods, Tanzers and BurgHounds of Hell, for their palates are the spawn of Satan, and that spawn is slightly salty, with a creamy texture, and tastes of asparagus and hedonistic DNA. Thou shalt not question my scores, for they are the Word and are Blessed, and are not subject to your mortal and weaker tastes. Parkenstein, now washed up on the shores of Monkton, found his commandments no longer relevant or obeyed, his power vanished, his name, once spoken in reverent whispers, now spoken with contempt and the insertion of noises that emulate the flatulence of a Shanken, which is Almighty Flatulence. But I shall let Parkenstein tell his own story.

My Creation, my monster, if you will [Parkenstein said to me], for he was at once beautiful and horrible to behold, like Nancy Grace only less manly, lay on the table awaiting life. He was a blob, a meaningless mound of fat and muscle and more fat, and he would be worthless until I bestowed upon him life and power. And when I gave him life, everyone would have to concede my infinite power and infallibility. Even blobbers, who are scum, the living excrement of Poodles.

I gave him life as a mother gives life. I suckled him at my own breast. My man-tits were fully developed, often admired and jealously envied, and when I placed one on the monster’s lips, he awoke! He had tasted the milk of my genius and it had given him life. It had been wise to give him a Suckling brain, for he took to it instantly. The monster arose, stared at me with the mouth-breathing gaze of an imbecile I would come to know well, and said his first words, “What’s it worth to you?”

Yet most of the monster’s speech was made up of grunts and snorts and slurping sounds. I had succeeded beyond my wildest dreams—he already spoke like a critic. Now my job would be to give the monster the tools it would take for him to function as my surrogate so that I could transfer my power unto him. One day I would unleash him on the world and his bequeathed power would make him a man, make him a god, and I would be the god-maker! I was crazy with lust, with a lust for omnipotence and power. I felt indomitable, I felt indestructible, I felt immortal. Parkenstein! I destroyed and created at will. My words, my numbers, were as if written in stone and carried down from the mountaintop by brave knights and their blithering idiot Squires (and his bulletin board). 

I was at the pinnacle of my profession, and yet I needed more. I needed immortality, and I knew it was not just one, but a procession of monsters I needed to create, a roving band of nonhuman Parkenstein robots who would not be me, but would carry my authority, would be my army of ventriloquist dummies, their opinions voiced as if they were their own. My first monster was just the beginning, I understood in that instant of creation, and one day I would have a retinue of monsters with borrowed brains who were mere impersonations of real humans, and the better for it. Real humans would never follow me.

Parkenstein Losing Face

I see now that my hubris blinded me, and was my downfall. I thought I could pass along my own success and power to creatures of my own making, as one might pass along goobers at a baseball game and in return pass back the money for them, for my monsters were clearly nuts and I certainly ended up with all the money. 

It was a horrible blunder, and one that has left me in the pathetic state you see me in now. I had created this monster and one day he would destroy me, just as modern man has declared God is dead and destroyed Him. But that was in the future then, as were the other horrible monsters I would create, and that moment I gave birth to the monster and decided to ship him to Spain I remember as a glorious and wondrous achievement. I wonder now how I could have been so stupid.

Could I have foreseen that my own creation, my monster, would want to ruin me? It was the ancient story of Oedipus, only I was both Mother and Father to the monster. He wanted to sleep with me and kill me both, which is how I felt about Alice Feiring. I’d created the script for my own snuff film where I was the star and the victim. Yet I believed I was doing good unleashing the monster on Spain, allowing him to roam the Spanish countryside dispensing my wisdom and my authority and my points. 

Perhaps my first clue to his hatred of me should have been how profligate he was with my points, how he handed them out like pedophiles hand out promises of puppies.  Everything was a 96 to this Sucklingized zombie, the stupidest Mencia and the most insipid Albarino. At first I found it cute, as gods find the behavior of mere mortals entertaining, but then my points, my scale that I had spent decades perfecting, became a laughingstock in the monster’s hands.

People saw the monster’s byline, his byline validated by my power and authority, and they began to laugh! To laugh! At me. At Parkenstein! Those meaningless numbers had actually become meaningless in the monster’s hands—something so many had tried to achieve with their own overblown scores and hollow, pathetic defenses of them, yet somehow only my loathsome Spanish dummy had succeeded in making an actual mockery of what had always been mockery. The monster had exposed my scale for what it was--yet another joke God has played on Man. I confess, now I find that joke mordantly funny.

And yet I loved my monster, his jowls reminded me of my beloved bulldog, so I didn’t do anything to stop him. He was my Creation, his existence without me as worthless as Republican rhetoric, and I was blind to the damage he was doing to me. And so I headed recklessly toward my downfall.

To be continued…

Posted by Ron Washam, HMW at 8:00 AM 17 comments

Thursday, January 5, 2012
PARKENSTEIN! Part the Last

Monkton, MD, 23 October 20__

My Dearest Sister,

I had a hard time believing all that Parkenstein told me. Only a madman could believe himself a God, and then believe he could pass along His Doctrine of Infallibility to monsters of his own making, thereby making each of them a sort of Pope, emissaries who speak the word of Parkenstein and have direct access to that almighty God and his insane system of Numbers—they were Parkenstein’s Howdy Deuteronomy. And, though he was clearly insane, I came to accept his story as truth. Parkenstein, his life, his career, his reputation, had been destroyed by a monster he had created with his own hands. It had the makings of a tragedy, a classic Geek tragedy. But I shall let Parkenstein finish his own tale.

The monster I had created [Parkenstein said to me] had come to hate me. He had learned my language, the language of countless adjectives, exaggeration, numbers, +’s, and disingenuousness, and he had learned it too well. His work on my behalf took on a crazed quality and I began to believe he was simply assigning numbers randomly, perhaps using a dartboard or by drawing them from a hat, which is what I do, only what the hell else can you do when you have to do it 150 times a day? I didn’t give the monster permission to do that. I was the last to recognize how ridiculous and meaningless his work was. I was just so proud of my creation, so amazed that I had given him a life, I just couldn’t believe that his numbers were that bizarre, that inflated. That was the first sign, I see now, that he wanted to destroy me.

Why did he want to destroy me? I don’t know the answer to that. But it must have been money. I had had ideas of creating a female monster to keep him company, but what female monster wants to marry a guy with a fish stick dick? And, besides, I’d already hired Karen MacNeil, so a female monster would have been redundant. No, it was the monster’s desire for money, which I assume came from that damned Suckling brain I’d used, that must have driven him to hate me. I paid him what he was worth—chump change. He was NOBODY. He was only someone because Parkenstein! said he was someone. They’d have laughed his verga de pescado out of Spain if it weren’t for me. They’d have made a blubber piñata out of him. But the monster believed in his own power, believed he had earned it. It was like I had created a twin.

The monster set out to gather money and ruin me at the same time. I admit now, the monster was a lot smarter than I’d thought. It had been a mistake to give him a brain—it’s not necessary for the job. It just seemed like the right thing to do. But it doesn’t take a brain to be a wine critic and assign numbers, it just takes balls. And I’d given him two salmon croquettes to go with the fish stick. That would have been plenty.

The monster began to accept money. This was strictly forbidden. No one I created could accept money in the line of duty. I scolded the monster, but he swore up and down he only accepted money for speaking engagements. I turned my wrath upon him and the monster broke down and cried (those John Boehner tear ducts were all I could scrounge), and swore to me the money was on the up and up.  And it made sense. Who wouldn’t pay tens of thousands of dollars to sit and listen to a manufactured expert lecture and proclaim? Why wouldn’t the people who had the most to lose or gain by the monster’s numbers want to pony up big ticket prices to hear him babble? Why wouldn’t an entire Spanish region chip in to make sure that he got his facts straight?

But if it wasn’t evil, if it wasn’t corrupt, it certainly smelled of it. As his body parts had when I’d first assembled them. When the rabble got wind of the monster’s money-grubbing ways, they were incensed. I did what I always do in that situation—I ignored them. They revere me. I had nothing to fear.  Sure, he was my monster, I’d loosed him on the world, but surely I wasn’t responsible for the appearance of impropriety he’d created. No one questions my integrity. NO ONE! Parkenstein is incorruptible and completely objective, like an NBA official.

And then the rabble surrounded my house. They had come for the monster. They wanted his head on a platter and his gigantic ass in a sling. I fought them off as best I could, but I knew that for the first time in my life, I was not the most powerful man in the world. And I knew that when the rabble, the scum, the ungrateful, number-munching cretins I had given my life to, for whom I had suffered endless nights of insobriety and gluttony, found out that I wasn’t the perfect, incorruptible, infallible God they’d believed me to be that I was doomed.

I should have given the ugly mob my monster. Instead, I defended him. It was foolish. But I loved him, I’d created him, I’d made him and he was Me, as surely as if I’d given birth to him, which would have hurt like a bastard. And with his actions, with his calculated acceptance of money, money he would never ever have been granted were it not for my imprimatur, he knocked me from my heavenly throne and I rejoined the rabble. My creation had ruined me.

Yes, I’m still here. I’m not the God I was, I have fewer and fewer Believers, only a sad collection of sycophantic Followers. But Parkenstein! still lives! And I have other monsters of my making roaming the Earth, assigning Numbers in my name, and I shall make my way to new worlds to conquer—the Far East!  My minions and I will one day again ascend to the Heavens, wait and see, my friend. Wait and see…

And with that, dearest Sister, Parkenstein died. He lay sprawled on the newly wet pavement. It had begun to rain, and the air, for a brief moment, the moment I like to believe that his soul left that cetacean body, had the smell of Brettanomyces, a fitting tribute to Parkenstein’s end.

But, dearest Sister, his monsters still roam the Earth. For now. With his Life extinguished, how much longer can his creations live? Only so long as the foolish rabble continue to heed those most horrible of Parkenstein’s creations—the Numbers!

THE END, or is it?

Posted by Ron Washam, HMW at 7:00 AM 13 comments

Gerry Dawes can be reached at


Warning: Driving in Spain. Don't Get a Traffic Fine or You Will Get The Horn Twice!!

* * * * * 

One of the famous Osborne bulls alongside a Spanish highway. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2010 /

Warning:  Driving in Spain.  Be very careful driving in Spain.  There hidden cameras everywhere connected to radar.  When you go over the speed limit, they catch your license plate on camera.  On my trip with Michael Chiarello, we got hit with two 100 Euros fines, one as we were leaving the Basque Country and another around Albacete on our way to Madrid.  Each of the fines was 100 Euros, but that is not all of it, Hertz charges 30 Euros to your credit card as a fee for the fine!!!  But that is not all, there is also a 5.40 Euro VAT tax on the fee, so each fine was 100 Euros + 30 Euros + 5.40 Euros = 135.40 Euros or about $180 (with the exchange fees)!     So the Spanish government fines you, then Hertz fines you.  Oh, yeh, and there was the 40 Euro parking for parking on a Saturday afternoon in a spot where the hotel concierge said it was okay.  And another 35.40 Euro Hertz fine for that on top of the parking fine.  The total fines cost more that the rental car!!  Can anyone else smell RIP-OFF?
Related Posts with Thumbnails