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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 & Stories Behind the Signatures. The Legendary Bullrunner Matt Carney & Big Dave Pierce, pg. 501

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All photographs by Gerry Dawes©2020, except the one in Iberia, which is by Robert Vavra, photographer of Iberia.
Autographs in my copy of Iberia, Matt Carney (in the photo) and Big Dave Pierce, pg. 501.
"To Gerry Dawes,  God love ye for putting the story (a tale about a haunted house in Louisiana, channeled from comedian Brother Dave Gardner) in my lap. We'll all do right." -- Matt Carney

"I hope all your life is one big San Fermines, but without the runs." Big Dave (Pierce)

 Matt Carney, Bar Txoko, Pamplona 1971.  Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2020.


Big Dave Pierce, Pamplona, 1970s.  Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2020.


 Big Dave Pierce and Matt Carney, Bar Txoko, Pamplona, 1970.  Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2020.

"I left the dinner party and wandered back to the square, where by purest chance someone said, ‘That’s Matt Carney over there. You want to get the straight dope about his fight with Hemingway?’

It was in this way that I met the legendary Carney, a forty-year-old California Irishman who, his friends are convinced, will become a first-rate novelist. Many years ago he came to Europe to finish a book but as he was knocking about Paris he was spotted by an agent whose job it was to find male models for advertising. Carney had the rugged New World look of a Mississippi gambler, and French advertisers flocked to him in such numbers that he earned a great deal of money. He was conned into posing for high-fashion ads and soon found himself the pin-up boy of Paris. For the past seven years he had been working on a novel, Run Out of Time, but had been somewhat sidetracked by the© purchase of a bar in Torremolinos. He loved Spain and spoke like a drunken angel, with fiery Irish eloquence, and as he approached my table I saw that his handsome features were marked by a colossal black eye, which made him doubly Irish and doubly handsome.

‘Who hung the mouse on you?’ I asked.

‘A Basque woodchopper with a right hand of phenomenal speed. But as I went down I had the presence of mind to kick him in the balls and when he doubled up I knocked out one of his front teeth. So now he’s a Basque woodchopper with a phenomenal right and one missing tooth.’" - -  James A. Michener, Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections. 


Gerry Dawes (left, center), American novillero Bill Cimino, writer Toby Williams, Juanito Quintana (Montoya in The Sun Also Rises), Matador John Fulton (center, not in focus), un-IDed, unIDed, Teddy Bloom Harry Hubert (far left),  David Black (aka DOM, The Dirty Old Man) and Matt Carney (far  right), Bar Txoko, July 7, 1970.  Photograph with my camera, possibly by David Black.

 "After the encierro, we walked over to the Plaza del Castillo and within five minutes I found myself sitting at the same table at the Bar Txoko with the legendary Matt Carney, an American model and would-be writer who lived in Paris.  Michener had immortalized Carney’s bull-running and supposed brawling at Pamplona in Iberia.   Carney was as handsome as Michener had described and he was in fine spirits.  I was excited about meeting Carney after all I had read about him in Iberia, but I was a little apprehensive about his reputation as a brawler.  When Fulton introduced me to him, Carney flashed his famous Irish grin and something about him made me feel I belonged, that I was no newcomer, no outsider, at his table.   Over the years, I would subsequently observe Matt welcome other people to the fiesta in much the same way.  Carney had a big heart and his idea of San Fermín was a fiesta of sharing, not of exclusion.

But, today, my first day at San Fermín, I was going to see both sides of the coin. Within ten minutes after we had pulled up chairs around Matt’s table, his demeanor suddenly changed.  “That’s a lie,” I heard him say.  Then he shouted,  “You’re a goddamn liar.  Take that back, I said, take it back!”  He jumped up and slapped hit the spectacle-wearing man sitting beside him.The man’s glasses flew off.   

‘Wow,’ I thought, ‘Carney sure lives up to his reputation.  Michener was right; Carney wanted to fight Hemingway, he got clocked by a Basque woodchopper. . . and now, right in front of me, he’s slapping the Hell out of someone named David Black.  I’m going to be damned careful what I say in front of this guy.” I was sure that Carney regularly blew up like Old Faithful and that after Iberia was published, he must have thought it was his duty to keep up his brawling since, along with his bullrunning, broad Irish smile and gravelly jota singing, his whole persona now bordered on a conjunto artistico-folklorico, an artistic-folkloric ensemble, on the verge of being declared of touristic merit. Nothing could have been further from the truth.  I subsequently knew Matt Carney for another 18 years and spent parts of ten sanfermines with him.  Other than the slapping around of David Black, known far and wide as "The Dirty Old Man" and a man so contemptible, obnoxious, and purposely provocative that there are few regulars at Pamplona who had not hit him, I saw Matt Carney in just one other fight, one he did not provoke.  Carney had been running the bulls for a couple of decades, but tomorrow July 8, I had my first date with the encierro." -- Gerry Dawes, Homage to Iberia (a work-in-progress), the authorized sequel to James A. Michener's Iberia:  Spanish Travels and Reflections

Gerry Dawes, American novillero Bill Cimino, writer Toby Williams, Juanito Quintana (Montoya in The Sun Also Rises), Matador John Fulton, un-IDed, unIDed, Teddy Bloom Harry Hubert (far left),  David Black (aka DOM, The Dirty Old Man), Bar Txoko, July 7, 1970.  Photograph by Matt Carney, who had been sitting between me and David Black.


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 About Gerry Dawes

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.

  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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