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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 Michener's Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections: More Autographs, Iberia Photographer Robert Vavra

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Robert Vavra, Photographer of Iberia, in his study at his typewriter at Villa Santa Cecilia in Sevilla in 1969.   Photo by Gerry Dawes©2020.
More photographs of the inscriptions in my copy of James Michener's Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections (Random House, New York, 1968) from people about whom he wrote in the book.
This autograph is from Iberia photographer Robert Vavra, with whom I shared many outings and adventures. I was a budding photographer and I apprenticed with Vavra, working on several shoots with him as he was photographing bullfighter Curro Camacho, about whom he was doing a book of photographs. 
Other signings in Iberia include photographer Robert Vavra, Matador John Fulton, Alice Hall, Juan Quintana, Professor Kenneth Vanderford, Matt Carney, Conrad Janis and others Michener wrote about. I will be publishing more photos, excerpts from Homage to Iberia and commentary over the next several days. 
Robert Vavra's inscription on the Introduction page in my copy of Iberia in Sevilla in 1969:  "For Gerry as a recuerdo of Sevilla and of the other people and places you know in Spain and of un amigo, Robert Vavra, 1969, Spain.   Photo by Gerry Dawes©2020.
Robert Vavra photographing bullfighter Curro Camacho, about whom he was doing a book of photographs. Curro is perched high atop one of the famous Osborne bull Veterano Brandy signs, more that 800 of which were scattered along the highways of Spain. Most of them are still there, but since laws were passed prohibiting billboards along Spain's highways, the Osborne Sherry people use black painted to cover over the advertising part, but by popular demand left the bulls. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2020.
The excerpted text below is from a work in progress, Homage to Iberia.
Gerry Dawes, first day in Sevilla, 1968.  Photo by Tom Sims.

"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.

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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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