MY FAVORITE PEOPLE, MY FAVORITE RECIPES: DAVID LEITE
At my very-first IACP conference, I met this great, gregarious guy who seemed to know everyone and have the skinny on everything. Because he does. David Leite (Portuguese for milk, rhymes with eat) curates the award-winning culinary clearinghouse Leite’s Culinaria, which he founded in 1999, before blogs were a thing. His 2010 book The New Portuguese Table won the IACP/Julia Child First Book Award. His brand spankin’ new Notes on a Banana (Banana is David’s family nickname) explores another country — a bigger, darker one — bipolar disorder. Leite has not only struggled with it, he’s pulled off the magic trick of turning his experience into a joyride of a read. The book is also a love story about his larger-than-life Portuguese family and of course it’s also about food. “It was one of the ways we bonded,” he writes.
Leite’s Culinaria lets everyone bond over food, with food essays, chef interviews, recipe-testing programming and recipes sourced from all over, including this one for DYI Larabars.
This stunning and long-awaited memoir is a candid, courageous, and at times laugh-out-loud funny story of family, food, mental illness, and sexual identity.
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-four-year relationship with Alan, known to millions of David’s readers as “The One,” which began with (what else?) food. Throughout the journey, David returns to his stoves and tables, and those of his family, as a way of grounding himself.
Follow David Leite:
Homemade Larabarsby Camilla V. Saulsbury from Power Hungry ( Lake Isle Press, 2013) Original recipe at Leite’s Culinaria Photo credit Tina Rupp
- Mild olive oil vegetable, or coconut oil, for the pan
- 1 cup packed dried cherries
- 1/4 cup packed pitted, soft whole dates
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt optional
- Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with a sheet of parchment or plastic wrap and give it a slick of oil.
- In a small bowl, mix together the cherries, dates, and warm water and let the fruit rest and soften for a few minutes.
- Drain the fruit and blot dry with paper towels.
- Meanwhile, place the almonds in a food processor and process until fluffy, light and floury.
- Add the drained fruit, cinnamon, and salt (if using). Pulse everything together until everything coalesces and turns doughlike. This could take up to 2 minutes.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Top with one more slick of oil — like hardly any. Cover with parchment paper, wax paper or plastic wrap and using your hand or a large spoon, flatten and even. Leave the paper or plastic wrap in place and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Take the edges of the parchment or plastic wrap used to line the bottom and lift the bar mixture out of the loaf pan and onto a cutting board. Lose the paper or plastic and slice the rectangle into 6 bars. Tightly wrap each bar in plastic wrap. The bars will keep wrapped and refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.