Penelope Casas and her guidebook to Spain

My sister Adrienne forwarded me today’s NY Times obituary of Spanish cookbook writer Penelope Casas. What the Times didn’t mention was Penelope’s tour book of Spain, “Discovering Spain: An Uncommon Guide.” Sometime in the 1990s, Adrienne and her family¬†lived for¬†a year in Spain, and our other sister, Patrice, and I visited for two weeks. The three of us drove together all over the country—Granada, Sevilla, the Extremadura—with Penelope’s guidebook firmly in hand. Her writing voice was so strong that I read the entries out loud as a narrator would tell a story, in an accent I imagined was hers—British, which I know now is wrong; Penny (as we came to call her because she made us feel we were friends) hailed from Whitestone, Queens. Penelope’s book caused me to fall in love with Spain, the Spanish language, Spanish food, Spanish culture. Since then, I’ve thought of her often, and her influence on our trip to Spain, because in a roundabout way, both led me to Guatemala, where my children were born and through which my life was changed forever. Rest in peace, Penelope Casas.
With gratitude from
Your Devoted Fan.

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