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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


James A. Michener's Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections / Autographs and Photographs

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Over the next few days, I will be posting photographs of the inscriptions in my copy of James Michener's Iberia from people whom he wrote about in the book.
The first two autographs are James Michener's, one obtained on stationary by Iberia Photographer Robert Vavra and Matador John Fulton during a visit by Michener to Marbella in southern Spain in 1972, the other one in the book itself at Jim Michener's home in Austin in 1986. 

This one is from Marbella and is the traditional Spanish equivalent of Health, Wealth and Happiness, "Salud, Pesetas y Amor." (Health, Money and Love.) and the second is "A true aficionado. Abbrazos." (sic). 
Other signings include photographer Robert Vavra, Matador John Fulton, Alice Hall, Juan Quintana, Professor Kenneth Vanderford, Matt Carney, Conrad Janis and others Michener wrote about in Iberia. 

James Michener, Gerry Dawes and his late former wife Diana Valenti Dawes at dinner at Michener's home in Austin, Texas in 1995.
The excerpted text below is from a work in progress, Homage to Iberia. 
"Villa Santa Cecilia became a Mecca for serious Spain aficionados and fans of John Fulton and Iberia, which had been published just a few months before I met Fulton and Vavra, who were still very much basking in the afterglow of Michener’s book. Iberia, which at 800-plus pages was a doorstop of a book—not too long by the reckoning of many of its admirers, myself included--featured scores of Vavra’s masterful black-and-white photographs and had numerous tales of Michener’s adventures in Spain with both men, sometimes together, at times separately.
During the early years with Fulton and Vavra, I began to meet many of the other people James Michener had written about in Iberia. In fact, I always carried Iberia in the car with me on trips around Spain. I met a score of people chronicled in the book—bullfight aficionada Virginia Smith, Professor Kenneth Vanderford (Hemingway’s “double”), author Robert Daley, architect Brewster Cross, actor Conrad Janis, and socialite Patter Ashcraft, among others. Many of them wrote inscriptions in my copy of Iberia and left indelible impressions in my memory and in my heart.
I became close friends with some of the people that Michener had profiled in Iberia, such as Alice Hall, the great doyenne of bullfight aficionadas, who became such a dear friend that we named our first daughter, Erica Catherine Alicia, after her. Other Iberia figures that I became close to were Matt Carney, the legendary bull runner at Pamplona, with whom I had many adventures, and Juanito Quintana, Hemingway’s old friend and the inspiration for Montoya, the owner of Hotel Montoya in The Sun Also Rises. In 1973, I had lunch with Quintana on his last day ever at the Fiestas de San Fermín at my Peña Anaitasuna friends’ house, the home of José Ramón Jorajurría and his wife Paquita (Quintana’s niece). Quintana fell ill that evening and never was able to return to Fiesta; he died later that winter. I will have well larded tales to tell about Alice Hall, Matt Carney and Juanito Quintana, especially in the chapters on Sevillla and Pamplona."


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 About Gerry Dawes

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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