The Heart of Spain: Families and Food Selected for Independent Book Prize

May 23, 2011

Williamsburg, VA — May 23, 2011 — Following months of praise from reviewers and readers, Don Harris’s personal reflection on Spanish food and culture has received yet another honor, winning the 2011 National Indie Excellence Book Award in the Travel category. The book, which incorporates Don’s own recollections and knowledge of cultural history, spans more than 40 years of Harris’s experience with Spain and its people, from his first visit as a U.S. Navy chaplain to the profound connections he has made working with traditional farmers and artisans for his own family business.

"The writing started informally, first as reflections and essays shared with visitors to our website," said Harris, founder of "But suddenly, I had over ten years worth of stories, and my family convinced me to commit them to a book."

After first stepping into the port of Valencia in 1965, Don felt immediately drawn to the country and its people, knowing he would be back. A fortuitous base assignment in the 1970s let him move with his wife and sons to El Puerto de Santa María, where they fully embraced the Spanish emphasis on community, family and food throughout their stay. Upon his retirement, the fond memories and return visits inspired Don to start La Tienda with his adult sons Jonathan and Tim in 1996.

Because of its early online presence and unwavering commitment to quality, La Tienda has grown into a leading provider of artisan Spanish goods—from gourmet hams, cheese and wine to handmade housewares. More than a decade of meeting in the homes of traditional artisans, vintners and farmers and doing business on handshakes has sealed the Harris family’s bond with the Spanish people and their way of life.

The essays included in of 'The Heart of Spain' feature not only personal accounts of travel and discovery but also fascinating bits of history, art and up-close encounters with the country’s distinctive cuisine—giving readers an opportunity to learn how Spain’s emblematic foods and wines are crafted and about the people committed to techniques used for generations.

As much as the book has to say about Jamón Ibérico and olive groves, traditional vintners and sherry bodegas, it is also about the principles enshrined in Spanish culture — hospitality, integrity, and the importance of family. In the farms, country villages and backroads he has traveled, people maintain a vibrant connection to the earth and good living, Don says, and he wants to share that.

"People are in love with the foods of Spain. The orders we receive everyday leave no doubt about that. But just as much, we’ve found that people want to know the whole story, about the families and craftspeople who make these fine foods possible."

"I am personally honored by this award and excited about the new readers it will bring. There is an incredible amount to be learned from the Spanish approach to life."

Published by Duende Press, 'The Heart of Spain: Families and Food' by Donald B. Harris is 272 pages, with more than 100 full-color photos. The book retails for $39.95 and can be found at and

About Don Harris

Don Harris has been writing very popular reflections on Spain since 1997. He fell in love with the Spanish culture over forty years ago, when he stepped ashore in Spain as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. For a time he and his wife Ruth raised their young family among the sherry bodegas of El Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz). As they enjoyed life with their sons in a Spanish neighborhood, they grew to appreciate the intimate dimension of Spanish life, where children are cherished and family ties are central. After retiring from the Chaplain Corps as a captain, Don founded with his wife and sons. They all visit Spain regularly. In 2009, Don received the Admiral Pedro Menéndez Friend of Spain Award from the Society of Spain for his outstanding leadership and dedication on behalf of Spain and Spanish culture.

About La Tienda

Founded in 1996, is an online retailer offering a selection of over 1000 gourmet food items from Spain. Family–owned and managed, is headquartered in Williamsburg, Virginia, with its Spanish operation based outside of San Sebastian, Spain. Warehouses in Virginia and Alicante, Spain, ship throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Europe. will ship to over 85,000 customers in 2011, including restaurants and renowned chefs.


Don Harris
phone: +1 (757)566-9606
3601 La Grange Parkway
Toano, Virginia 23168


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