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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


BEWARE! TSA Warning: Inventory Your Items, Especially Camera & Electronics Gear After Passing Through TSA Security Screenings at Airports!!!!

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Saturday, Jan. 26  Flight from JFK – Madrid Iberia 6252 21:05 – 10:15  JFK Terminal 7

Items removed by a TSA agent, unbeknownst to me, from the Equinox bag in which I carry my cameras and other gear in on trips.  I was not told that had been removed and they were left behind a JFK NYC for two weeks!(Clockwise from above:  Sony RX100 III, Samsung tablet, Canon M-5 camera with 15-45mm lens and a Canon 10-18mm lens and case.)

I had an uneventful drive to the airport with Kay, who kept my car and drove it back to the airport the following Saturday to catch her flight to Spain. She had a fairly easy ride back at 4 p.m. The traffic on the notorious Van Wyck Expressway (an oxymoron) was manageable, both going to JFK airport and returning. 

Off tonight to Madrid for Madrid Fusión for my 17 straight year (of 17). Reale Seguros Madrid Fusión 2019 begins on Monday morning, when Ferran Adrià returns to the main stage after a five-year hiatus.

Let this be a warning to people flying the friendly skies. Saturday afternoon I took a flight from JFK Terminal 7, went through the TSA security line (my Global Entry security pass was for naught, apparently they don't have TSA clearance line for Iberia, British Airways, etc. 

I was going through Security and they retained my red Equinox tote bag that I use to carry cameras and other gear, a red shoulder bag that usually has a larger Canon 77d camera and 18-135 mm lens, an M-5 Canon Mirrorless camera with a small 15-45mm lens and a Sony RX100 III (and, as I would later find, a Canon 10-20mm lens that I thought I had put in my computer bag for the trip).

This time, I also put my Samsung tablet into the red Equinox bag.  I had the bag zipped. The woman TSA agent asked who the red bag belonged to, I told her it was mine and she said she needed to go through it manually and I said fine.

I got through security, got the red bag back closed and put it on top my computer bag and rolled it off to the British Airways lounge to await my flight. I did not check the red bag to see if all my items were in it, nor try to use my computer or tablet, since I was using my smart phone for any e-mails, Facebook, etc. that I needed to attend to.

I arrived Madrid, and due to a taxi strike, I got into the hotel, unpacked, set up my laptop, etc. and went down for a nap, then when I got up, I began going through my camera bag to get ready for the next day at Madrid Fusion. I looked for the padded insert bag with my lightweight Canon M5 Mirrorless camera. It was not there, then I realized that I did not have my tablet either and then I remembered that my little Sony RX100 was missing (and later, when I searched for it in my computer case, I realized the Canon 10-20mm lens was missing as well), some $2500 worth of camera and electronics that was not put back into my bag! The tablet and my Sony Camera had my identification stickers on them.

I e-mailed Kay about the problem and she tried to get through to TSA to see if she can get them to find my stuff and pick it up on Saturday, when she was due to go to JFK to fly to Spain to join me.  She told me that she is getting a recording saying that they cannot answer because of DumbF's government shutdown!
WOW, this should not happen!

UPDATE!!! On her way to  get her flight to Spain, Kay stopped at TSA, Terminal 7 on Saturday and TSA said they had my stuff, but that it was locked up and that the agent with the key is not there on Saturday!  They took my gear on Saturday, but could not return it on Saturday!!!

So, we have to try to pick it up on the way back on Monday, Feb. 11. Glad they left me one camera for the trip!!

I emphasize that for the whole trip to Spain, I was still not re-united with my Canon MF camera, Canon 10-20mm lens, Sony RX100 camera and a Samsung tablet.

On Feb. 11, we arrived at JFK customs, cleared check-in and went to the baggage carousel to await our luggage.  I heard my name announced over the PA system and was told to look for at TSA agent by the carousel.  I met him and he told me he had my lost items, waiting for us and took us to where he had the items waiting.   The missing items, including the tablet had all been placed inside a padded insert that had held only the Canon M-5 camera and attached lens.  I was very happy to be re-united with my missing gear, but pissed that I was deprived of the use of it on our trip.

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About Gerry Dawes

"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

Gerry Dawes is the Producer and Program Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on WPWL 103.7 FM Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York.  Gerry Dawes & Friends can be heard live on Mondays from 7-8 p.m. and Saturdays from 2-3 p.m. at

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. 

In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés

". . .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. 
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

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