This article has been updated. Originally posted August 11, 2010.
As the The One and I touched down in Barcelona after that inhumane flight on Lufthansa, the worst airline I’ve ever flown, we were indeed ready to shrug off the cramped seats, terse personnel, and wailing infants and dig in to the dining scene. I had a list of restaurants given to me by everyone from Amanda Hesser to Anya von Bremzen to a friend of Mark Bittman. I wasn’t messing around.
But you know how they say that if you want to make God laugh, make plans? Well, if you want to see him roll on the floor in fits of hysteria, make travel arrangements with me.
Within a 48-hour period in Barcelona, a colossal demonstration for Catalonian independence, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since 1984, coincided with Spain’s magisterial win of the World Cup, clogging every restaurant and tapas joint with enough people and smoke to cause a panic attack. Then, thanks to lingering tourists who decided to extend their stay in Barcelona, restaurants suddenly had capricious schedules, opening when they were supposed to be closed, closing when they were supposed to be opened. Read more “Barcelona Restaurants”
The last time it happened, I was nineteen years old. I have vague memories of squinting through a red cellophane candy wrapper at the noon sky and wondering what the big deal was. But I guess a total solar eclipse doesn’t make the list of Life’s Big Moments to a hormone-rattled teenager. I was more concerned with lacquering down my helmet haircut with my mother’s Aqua Net and trying to squeeze into a faux leather vest. I did have a geeky friend who walked around with a box over his head all day. I guess it was a thing. (It was the ’70s, after all.) Read more “A Blackout Cake to Celebrate the Solar Eclipse”
During the process of writing a book, so much material inevitably gets written, cut, added back to the book, and then cut again. It’s sorta maddening. This gem of a story was edited out of the final version of my memoir, Notes on a Banana, for space reasons. But I thought the innocence and playfulness of my childhood friend Gail Martin and I pretending to grocery shop deserved to be shared with others. We were all of six years old when this took place. I hope you enjoy it. By the way, that’s not me in the photo above. I couldn’t find a picture of me rummaging through trash cans—go figure.—David Leite
The alley beneath my window connected Brownell Street to an interior asphalt courtyard of tenements and the back of the Terminal Bakery. Mr. Jeff, who lived in the house next door, was a meticulous man. His trash cans, shiny and with “135” painted in two graceful arcs on each side of the handles, sat beyond reproach at the back of the alley. One summer morning, after being shrugged off by our mothers and told to “go play in traffic,” Gail, my neighbor from across the street, and I headed for the alley to play supermarket. Mr. Jeff, besides his incredible orderliness, was blessed with uncanny hearing, so we had to be cat-burglar quiet. Read more “Trash Can Alley”