Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of
Food, Love, and Manic Depression is the brilliant and
long-awaited memoir from the beloved founder of the James Beard
Award-winning website, Leite’s
Culinaria. David’s website is indexed for our members – one click and
almost 2,900 recipes will be added to your bookshelf.
Notes on a Banana is funny, touching and
stay-up-all-night read – a story of the tumultous journey of a life
well-lived. As the mother of a child with Aspergers and bi-polar,
David’s words resonated with me.
The author has a number of events scheduled to promote his
memoir – check to see if he is in your area.
David was kind enough to answer a few questions for Eat Your
Books members. Be sure to head over to our contest page to enter our giveaway for three
copies of this must-read book of 2017.
Q: First of all, bravo on
such a wonderful piece of work. Tell us about the title – how did
you come up with that?
A: Every morning, since I was a kid, my mother has written
notes on a banana and placed it at my spot at the breakfast table.
Back then, I thought it was just one of the wacky and creative
things she did. I appreciated those notes: “We love you!” “God
bless!” “Do well in school today!” “You’re a champ!” (My mother is
overly fond of exclamation points.) And it’s something she still
does today. On Mother’s Day 2014, I posted on social media a
picture of a banana she had written on that morning. It went viral.
I thought, “Wait a minute, don’t all your mothers write on bananas
for you?” That’s when I realized I had my title. It has so many
different meanings for me: My mother’s nickname for me is “Banana,”
so it refers to notes or stories about me. Plus, a banana is food
and there’s a lot a food writing in there.
Q: This truly has been an emotional journey for you
putting into words the self-portrait of your life – what was the
most rewarding experience and what was the most difficult
experience during this writing process?
A: By far the most rewarding experience has been getting a
perspective on my life I never would have had had I not written the
book. Writing down all the good and tough things that have happened
to me has allowed me to look at myself almost like a
three-dimensional object. I see my life in a different way because
I had to contextualize it for the reader. I couldn’t rely upon the
cognitive shorthand that we all use when we think about our
Undoubtedly, the hardest part of writing the book was reliving
the pain. I had thought I had handily dispatched that stuff in
therapy – and I had to a degree. But to sit for weeks in the
discomfort of, say, writing about a panic attack, which takes all
of a minute to experience in real life, was wearing and stressful.
I didn’t expect to be so thrown by the material of my own
Q: There has been an outpouring of support from your
fan base. What has surprised you the most during this time – has
there been any negative feedback? We sometimes get as food writers
‘Stick to food” – have you experienced any of that?
A: What has surprised me is how open readers have been. Many
have written and told me they could see themselves or a loved one
in the prose, and that the book has given them the courage to face
mental illness, or to come out as LGBTQ, or to stand up to bullies.
Whatever. They felt inspired by it. So far there hasn’t been any
Q: What are your plans with regards to writing – any
Leite’s Culinaria cookbooks in the works?
A: No plans for a Leite’s Culinaria cookbook at the moment. To
be honest, I’m unsure of the value of cookbooks based upon websites
or blogs nowadays. I watch people all the time walk right by books
in their library and jump on the Internet for recipes. If we did a
cookbook, it would have to be something different, something that
acts as an adjunct to rather than as an extension of the
In regards to other writing, I’m playing around with a few
ideas, but these days I have barely a minute to focus!
Q: As cookbook lovers of course we want to know some
of your favorite titles – can you share a few with
There are so many. Here are a few I’m cooking from right
Jenny’s note: Thank you, David, for your time and
perspective on the writing of your memoir. I strongly disagree with
you on one point, I know hundreds of thousands of cookbook fans
that would never pass up a cookbook. Food52 cookbooks are hugely popular even though
most of the recipes are on the their website. There needs to be a
Leite’s cookbook, I’d buy it.