Funded! This project was successfully funded on June 15, 2010.

Update #15

Driving Hungry on its Way

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Hello everyone!

A quick update from Berlin: I'm thrilled to report that after almost two years of wild writing, the first draft of 'Driving Hungry' - the book inspired by the Taxi Gourmet blog - is finished! 

A little about the book:

The story starts in Buenos Aires, where I kept getting into fascinating conversations with taxistas en route to tango parlors -- where after a particularly painful afternoon of tango dancing, in search of sustenance and not sure where to turn, I decided to hail a cab and ask the driver to take me to his favorite place to eat. When I ended in a cab with Enrique, a hilarious taxista who showed me the way to a transcendent plate of bife de lomo at Parrilla Peña, I knew I was onto something. 

Eventually the taxi adventures led from Buenos Aires to New York City, where I met a pair of extraordinary lady cab drivers who took me to their favorite spots for goat curry and mofongo -- and inspired me to get my own hack license. Misadventures ensued when I started driving a yellow cab, which climaxed in a nightmarish journey with a hysterical bride through Central Park. 

One day, in the middle of a nasty taxi-driving shift, I escaped to the travel section at the New York Public Library, where I found an old Lonely Planet guide to Berlin that claimed the taxi drivers there know as much about Nietzsche as they do about sausage. Intrigued, I decided to see how the taxi adventures would play out in that unlikely food city. Eventually I did meet a Berlin cab driver whose knowledge of Nietzsche matched his wisdom about sausage - and the taxi adventures took a turn I'd never imagined.

So when is the book (finally) coming out? 

Spring 2014, if all goes as planned.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for feedback from my editor at Vintage and the manuscript will probably go through a couple of rounds of revision before it's in its final form.

I want to thank you again for supporting the Berlin chapter of the Taxi Gourmet adventures - I am so looking forward to sharing the book, and the story of this journey, with you!

All the best from Berlin,

Layne


Update #14

20 Chapters in...

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Greetings!

I just listened to a disturbing report about Kickstarter projects that never get completed - http://www.studio360.org/2013/feb/08/who-backs-the-backers-on-kickstarter/ - and I wanted to give you a quick update on the progress of 'Driving Hungry', which is scheduled for publication by Vintage in spring 2014.

As of today, I'm 20 chapters into the book, smack dab in the middle of the New York section -- and I'm on target for finishing the manuscript and submitting it to the publishers this August. After that, it will take them about a year (give or take) to transform the manuscript into the book you'll eventually hold in your hands.

In the meantime, please feel free to let me know if you have questions about the book or the writing process or the Taxi Gourmet blog (which is on hold until the manuscript is finished). I'm more than happy to keep you posted about my progress.

Thank you again for supporting my project. I wish you all the best from Berlin!

Layne

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Update #13

Coming in 2014: Driving Hungry (It's a Book Deal!!)

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At last! After 4 1/2 years, three hemispheres, ten addresses, hundreds of taxi adventures, a whole lot of remarkable cab drivers and food I'm never going to forget, I finally get to tell the story behind the story of Taxi Gourmet.

Driving Hungry, the book based on my blog, the book you helped support last summer during the great adventure to Berlin, has been accepted for publication by Vintage (Random House), and it's coming out in 2014!

There is no way - no way - I could have realized this dream without your support. The research in Berlin was the missing piece I needed to tell my story, and you helped me find it.

I know it's been a long time since you've heard from me about what's going on with Taxi Gourmet, the Berlin project, and the book, but if you've ever written a book proposal, I'm guessing you understand how long it takes for all the pieces to come together. I'm so thrilled to report that they finally have, and I'll be sure to keep you posted as the book gets closer to publication (we're going to plan lots of fun events around it.)

For now, I want to thank you for sharing my joy, for believing in this project and for helping me realize this dream.

Cheers to the taxi drivers - and cheers to YOU.

Layne

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Update #12

Goodbye to Berlin (for now)

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"And now the city was left behind. Those familiar faces, forms, and voices…seemed as remote as dreams…a world of massive brick and stone and pavements, a world hived of four million lives, of hope and fear and hatred, of anguish and despair, of love, of cruelty and devotion, that was called Berlin."
- Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again

Whenever you return from a trip - especially a long one - it's your job to condense your experience into one or two sentences. You have to answer the inevitable, well-meaning question from people back home in a way that captures what's happened to you over the course of weeks or months - and you have to do it before their eyes glaze over.

I already know what I'm going to tell anyone who asks me, "How was Berlin?"

"Berlin was a dream," I'll say.

Berlin was a dream. And it wasn't just all the great press that Taxi Gourmet kicked up while I was here. It wasn't just the thread I discovered at the center of my book (I've still got two sample chapters to finish, but the bones of the thing are there, and I'm happy about that). It wasn't just the city, which feels like an adolescent burning for adulthood.

The part of the dream that's most vivid for me is the artistry that people weave into their lives in this city. A punk musician raises the money to cut a CD by participating in medical studies. A naturopath moonlights as a taxi driver. A taxi driver appropriates his job for his writing and his pictures. And on and on and on. Life is a creative exercise in Berlin. Even if the chaos of the fall of the Wall is mostly gone.

Berlin was a dream. And when I get back into the driver's seat of my cab in New York, I'm bringing it with me.

PS - Thank you again, wonderful backers of this project! I'll be putting together my Berlin restaurant guide and will send that along with the NY and Buenos Aires food recommendations in the next few weeks.

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Update #11

Autofiktion, Zorba the Greek, Gorgeous Curry & Blood Sausage

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There is no lead, no quote, no way to dive into describing today's taxi adventure in a way that would do justice to the man who led it.

He's a photographer - http://picasaweb.google.com/berlin.bulgaria/RumenWMilkow# - who occasionally sells his stuff at the Boxhagener Platz flea market on Sundays.

He's the author of a blog called Autofiktion: Untrue stories from the Real Life of a Berlin Taxi Driver: http://taxiberlin.blogspot.com/. He's also working on a book based on his adventures driving from Berlin to Istanbul via Romania, Bulgaria and the Balkans.

He likes to spend his holidays in Bulgaria, where his father was born, and where "the mafia isn't part of the government. The government is part of the mafia."

He likes to take advantage of all the waiting he does in his taxicab by reading voraciously. Some of his favorite authors? Michel Houellebecq, Iliya Trojanov (a Bulgarian social commentator), and Nikos Katzanzakis, who wrote Zorba the Greek, a book he read for the tenth time while he was on vacation in Bulgaria this August. The title character, who dances as everything falls apart around him, is one of his heroes.

Though the cabbie asked me not to tell you his real name, he said I could post some video of him on the blog, which I'll work on editing next week. He had some fascinating things to say about how Berlin is changing, evolving into something entirely different than it was when he came to the city 20 years ago.

And I almost forgot! He also led my co-adventurers (Audrey and Daniel from http://uncorneredmarket.com, whose travel/food/philosophy site you should definitely visit) and me to a wonderful Vietnamese curry AND a tasty plate of blood sausage and sauerkraut. Yes, it was tasty, despite its resemblance to pet food.

And, yes, Berlin is this mind-blowing. Its taxi drivers have rocked my world.

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