My Memoir: The Cover Revealed

Notes on a Banana Cover

I’m out of my mind with excitement! Here’s the brand-spanking-new cover for my soon-to-be-published memoir, Notes on a Banana. I’m in love, love, love, I tell you.

It was a long process to create the cover. I saw the first iteration way back in June. Since then, the extremely talented art director Mumtaz Mustafa worked closely with hand-lettering savant Joel Holland, and a week or so ago, this neon beauty finally hit all the online bookstores the day my memoir was ready for pre-order. (Hint, hint.)

I’d like to thank everyone at Dey Street Books for making this happen and for graciously letting this old graphic design student have some input. (Yes, I had a life before I was in food, which you’ll discover when you read the book. And yes, that’s a not-so-subtle hint.)

I’ve heard from a lot of folks on Facebook and Twitter that they love the design. Although these comments are inevitably followed by, “But what does it mean?” I don’t think I’m dropping too much trou by saying that ever since I was a kid, Momma Leite would write a note on a banana each morning and place it at my spot on the kitchen snack bar. (My favorite breakfast was peanut butter and banana on toast.) She’d write messages to me such as “Have a good day!” and “We love you!” and “Do good in school!” and even “Take out the trash!” (The woman can’t live without her exclamation points.)

On Mother’s Day 2014, I awoke to find this banana at my same spot at our same snack bar covered in the same faux marble Formica that my father had installed in 1966.

Mom's Banana

When I posted the picture on social media, I got a tsunami of responses. People loved the idea of writing on a banana to someone they loved. That was when everything fell into place: the title of the book, the artwork for the cover, the theme of the memoir. It even helped explain why my mother’s nickname me for growing up was “Banana.”

At the risk of going rogue and telling you too much, here’s the copy that now appears on bookstore websites. It gives you a good idea of the story. (And if you read it closely, you’ll discover The One’s real name.)

The stunning and long-awaited memoir from the beloved founder of the James Beard Award-winning website Leite’s Culinaria—a candid, courageous, and at times laugh-out-loud funny story of family, food, mental illness, and sexual identity.

Born into a family of Azorean immigrants, David Leite grew up in the 1960s in a devoutly Catholic, blue-collar, food-crazed Portuguese home in Fall River, Massachusetts. A clever and determined dreamer with a vivid imagination and a flair for the dramatic, “Banana,” as his mother endearingly called him, yearned to live in a middle-class house with a swinging kitchen door like the ones on television, and fell in love with everything French, thanks to his Portuguese and French-Canadian godmother. But David also struggled with the emotional devastation of bipolar disorder. Until he was diagnosed in his mid-thirties, David found relief from his wild mood swings in cooking, Julia Child, and a Viking stove he named “Thor.”

Notes on a Banana is his heartfelt, unflinchingly honest, yet tender memoir of growing up, accepting himself, and turning his love of food into an award-winning career. Reminiscing about the people and events that shaped him, David looks back at the highs and lows of his life: from his rejection of being gay and his attempt to “turn straight” through Aesthetic Realism, a cult in downtown Manhattan, to becoming a writer, cookbook author, and web publisher, to his twenty-three-year relationship with Alan, known to millions of David’s readers as “The One,” which began with (what else?) food. Woven throughout these stories are the dishes David loves—the tastes that led him to happiness, health, and success.

A blend of Kay Redfield Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, the food memoirs of Ruth Reichl, Anthony Bourdain, and Gabrielle Hamilton, and the character-rich storytelling of Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris, and Jenny Lawson, Notes on a Banana is a feast that dazzles, delights, and, ultimately, heals.

In the coming months, I’ll keep you posted on the marketing, publicity, audiobook (which I’ll be recording), and scheduled events and readings for the book.

All this talk about bananas has me hungry. So, while I make myself a “peabot and blana sandwich,” you go and get your preorder on. (And when you’re done, email your purchase confirmation and street address to, and I’ll send you a signed bookplate when the book is published. Just remember to say whom you want the book inscribed to.)

David Leite's signature



  1. What wonderful news, David! In your honor I will have a pb/banana sandwich for lunch…

  2. David,
    Wow! A book! So many words…..
    My heartiest congratulations.
    Rick Casner

    P.S. You could mention that there’s also a pretty good cookbook out there by the same author…

    1. Thank you, sir. Much appreciated. And, yes, funny how there’s a guy out there with my name who wrote a Portuguese cookbook called The New Portuguese Table!

  3. I am usually not interested a whole lot in reading books, but u have caught my attention. I am really intetested in listening to your audiobook. I can relate to you because i am bipolar/manic depression also. Hope i win.

  4. David…having trouble pre-ordering your book…get all info done and submit and then it tells me not working at this time???!! Anyway I will try again later.

    P.S. I am good friends with your Mom! She took my granddaughter to heart at church. Your
    parents have blessed me as well as following you in blogland! I have just moved to NC. I just got an e-mail from your folks! They are great people…I do see your Mom writing notes on bananas for you! She loves you so much!

  5. Congratulations! You are a gorgeous writer. May you have great success! And may your story nourish the hearts of your readers!

  6. SO EXCITING!! Congratulations! You are one of my very favorite writers, so I cannot wait to read your memoir! Wonderful cover.
    P.S. LOVED the unveiling music! Perfection.
    P.P.S. Seems I can’t resist an exclamation mark either. (!)

  7. So very pleased for you! I’ve missed your posts in recent months and now I know why. Congrats!

    1. Carol, yes, I’ve been MIA because of writing the book. Plus I have Lyme Disease, which has kept me down for the count a lot. I’m hoping I’ve turned a corner by finishing the book and by encouraging improvements in my health.

  8. David, you’re way too young to be writing a memoir!

    Now, you have to start work on Part II even before Part I is out.

    Congratulations, and looking forward to it.

  9. Hi David,I’ve been a fan since I first stumbled on your posts, can’t even remember how, just that I found your posts quite entertaining & witty.
    I share you’re love for food though my swings from love & hate. Born among skinny siblings, I was always made to think I was fat but really I wasn’t. Manipulative abusive parents & siblings. Thank you for writing this, I can’t hardly wait to start reading it, though it’ll take a while before it reaches my neck of the woods , duterte country.
    Love you
    Anita Li

  10. So “The One’s” name is Thor? Just kidding… the cover, can’t wait to get to the inside. Congratulations!

  11. I keep trying to click on the link to the pre-order at Amazon and it’s not working. I am perfectly capable of going to Amazon and searching there for your book, I just wanted you to know to check the link :-) And congratulations!

    1. Robyn, that’s so odd. I clicked on it, and it took me to HarperCollins’ website, which features all the different booksellers. But, thanks for the kind wishes!

    1. David, I am so happy to see this memoir. I hope the cover comments will include some from the unsung chefs who loved your book and wore it out and from all the home chefs who have cherished your recipes. I never fail to open and read your weekly letter. I also read all the comments because those of us who love your work actually make the things you write about!!!!! And I dare say we modify them a bit and you publish our comments. I am thrilled for you and wish you every success. You deserve it, David. Enjoy. Chef Diane Perkins, Santa Fe

      1. Diane, thank you so much for your kind words. I don’t know what quotes they’ll add to the book cover, but those chefs and readers are all in my heart. I’m a very fortunate man to have such devoted followers!!

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