A Blackout Cake to Celebrate the Solar Eclipse

Brooklyn Blackout Cake Recipe

Blackout Cake adapted from Elinor Klivans | Chocolate Cakes | Chronicle, 2010

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” »

Trash Can Alley

Trash Can Kid

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” »

Notes on a Banana: An Excerpt

Alan and David, 1993

Today, Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Manic Depression publishes. It’s taken nearly a quarter of a century for me to write this book. I first sat down to share my story with the world on the very first laptop Apple ever made. That was in 1992. I didn’t get beyond several paragraphs, which are in the book, because, frankly, I didn’t have the writing skills yet. Also, I was still living my story. I didn’t have the distance I needed. The following year, I met The One—Alan Dunkelberger—and, as many of you know, my life was forever changed. I was young, thin, and beautiful when we fell in love. Emphasis on thin. I had recently lost more than 70 pounds, and no one—no one—was going to make me gain it back. Ha! Was I wrong. In this excerpt, I share some of the differences between Alan and me when it comes to food. And how I learned something in those early and carefree months of our relationship. I learned to linger over a meal, something my family didn’t do. We, proudly, were eaters. Alan coaxed me into becoming a devotee of everything about sitting down to eat.—David Leite

Alan, I soon discovered, was a diner. He loved everything about the ceremony of the table. Whenever we were at his apartment on West Eighty-Fifth Street, he’d lay out placemats, those gold-rimmed plates from Macy’s, silverware, glasses. He slipped rolled napkins into shiny rings, like wedding bands, and lit candles and played music—Kenny G, of whom, for some reason, he was inordinately and unfortunately fond. Read more “Notes on a Banana: An Excerpt” »