EL INTERNACIONAL
Tapas Bar & Restaurant
(New York, 1984–86)

We are working hard to bring to life in Fall 2016 a book about legendary El Internacional Tapas Bar & Restaurant, a project by artist Antoni Miralda and chef Montse Guillén at the intersection of art and food that became a landmark in the cultural and gastronomic worlds.

Contents of this Site

Part 1
The Book
Part 2
El Internacional
Part 3
Miralda & Montse
Part 4
Words on El Internacional

Part 1
The Book

Help us re-create the atmosphere of El Internacional by sharing your memories with us for the book.

1.1. Why a book?

— For its relevance
El Internacional reminded New Yorkers that food is a form of art.

— For its role in the cultural developments of New York in the eighties
El Internacional was one of the main stages in a neighborhood in transition and the multicultural development of a metropolis; its story is central to the history of the cultural life in TriBeCa and New York City.

— For its role as a historical document
This book is intended to be a source for research and consultation for academic, institutional, culinary, artistic and cultural projects. It will be a living archive and a source for continued inspiration.

1.2. Oral history

One of the highlights of the book will be drawn mostly from the testimonies of the people who came to the restaurant frequently and those who worked there.

Drop us a line at any time (elinternacionaltapasbar(at)gmail(dot)com) with your anecdotes, pictures or suggestions. We would greatly appreciate it.

(You can see some of the first comments in section 4.2. of this webpage).

Part 2
El Internacional

El Internacional Tapas Bar & Restaurant was conceived as an artistic project and social experiment, carried out between 1984 and 1986 by artist Antoni Miralda and chef Montse Guillén in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan, New York. Their initiative merged the cultural contexts of contemporary art and cuisine. The restaurant's popularity and renown became a daring exploration of cross-cultural, trans-disciplinary aesthetics and grew to become an iconic symbol of the New York scene of the 80s.

2.1. Space

2.1.1. Crown & Façade

Miralda examined and treated the site like an archeologist, sifting through mountains of old papers and records eventually learning who, how, and what Teddy's had been. The original Teddy's remained and continued being Teddy's even as Miralda transformed it into El Internacional.

Much of the interior remained intact, but the façade was repainted with black-and-white Dalmation spots that left a ghostly image of Teddy's sign. The roof was crowned with a replica of the Statue of Liberty's crown.

"An exact replica of the Statue of Liberty's crown will be the rooftop symbol of El Internacional, a Catalan restaurant opening in late September." New York Magazine, 1984
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Photo: Montse Guillén

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Photo: Peter Aaron

2.1.2. Terraza Sol y Sombra

From the street, the restaurant appeared to be an enigmatic construction site/work of art causing unexpected reactions from the onlookers. The first thing visitors saw when arriving at the Terraza Sol y Sombra were crushed beverage cans embbeded in the sidewalk like contemporary fossils.

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Photo: Peter Aaron

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Photo: Peter Aaron

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Photo: Peter Aaron

2.1.3. Flag Entrance

"A greeting glossy flag carpet like a pool of world's flags waiting to walk on them to celebrate New York melting pot." El Internacional Newspaper, 1984

2.1.4. The Archaeological Sandwich

"Eating a sandwich while inside a sandwich isn't something you can do anywhere, anytime. But, then, the El Internacional isn't just anywhere, anytime. The restaurant mingles many times, many eras, just as it combines many places, many nations." Ronald Christ, El Internacional Newspaper, 1984
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Photo: Peter Aaron

2.1.5. Columbus Trophy Bar

"In Spain tapas are customarily displayed along the bar. The Columbus Trophy Bar food display and Blue Margaritas has been raised to the level of an art form." Nation's Restaurant News, 1984
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Photo: Peter Aaron

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Photo: Peter Aaron

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Antoni Miralda

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Photo: Marta Sentis

2.1.6. Dining Rooms

When the renovation began, Montse & Miralda discovered that the building contained a rich tapestry of memories from one of America's Golden Ages: the fifties. Miralda decided to use these elements to evoke the magic of that period.

He turned the main entrance area into the Columbus Trophy Bar; the adjoining dining rooms, and the upper floor became the Marina and Crystal rooms. Each space captured a different feeling and different period while existing as a unique architectural work of the fantastic.

"It looks like the inside of a drained aquarium and any mermaid would feel quite at home there and I do." Eye-East Village, 1985
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Turquoise Dining Room
Photo: Peter Aaron

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Mermaid Aquarium
Photo: Peter Aaron

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Carnation Dining Room
Photo: Marta Sentis

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Kisses & Graffiti

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Antoni Miralda

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Marina Dining Room
Photo: Peter Aaron

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Crystal Dining Room
Photo: Peter Aaron

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Torero Candelabra
Photo: Marta Sentis

2.2. Food

2.2.1. Tapas

El Internacional introduced tapas to the United States. The food and flavors recreated the presence of Spain, the Mediterranean, Catalonia, and Barcelona in New York, filtered through the personal visions of Miralda and Montse.

"Tapas embody an entire style life, and fortunately for New Yorkers an authentic Spanish restaurant with such a bar has opened in TriBeCa, called El Internacional." The New York Times, 1984
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Menu, May 27 – June 2, 1985

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Menu, July 8 – 15, 1984

2.2.2. Video Menu

"No need to point at a plate on the next table and ask the waiter what it is. Just watch the monitor the first Video Menu, a video installation created by El Internacional." El Internacional Newspaper, 1985

El Internacional had the world's first video menu, a 36-minute tape that told you everything you'd ever want to know about tapas, main courses, and desserts.

The menu unfurled in an underwater setting, waving gently like the flag that was the restaurant's motif. Text and images moved across the screen in three bands, each bearing a different kind of information. At the top, the name of the dish was given in Spanish or Catalan. The center band depicted the food itself —before, during, and after its preparation. On the bottom, a scrolling text described the origins and pleasures of each dish.

The video menu offered a feast for the eyes and...

— Information: for example, the fasciniting details of how snail's stomachs are purified.
— Inspiration: it revealed new facets of exotic foods.
— Interpretation: if you couldn't pronounce it, you would at least be able to describe it.
— Ingenuity: historical anecdotes of a dubious nature enhanced the conversational value of the meal. For example, you the stories of the homesick princess who thrived on gambas al ajillo and the hitherto unsuspected link between cephalopods and the assassination of Julius Caesar.

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Photo: Marta Sentis

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2.3. Action!

"El Internacional, a restaurant-as-theater, is playing to a full house every night and getting bravos." Daily News, New York, 1985

From birthday parties to commemorative gatherings, the food, the environment and the special atmosphere at El Internacional made an ideal stage for participatory celebrations.

El Internacional also had it's own calendar of special events: the New Years' ritual passage, the Porrón Olympics, the NewMia-YorkMi celebrating the arrival of the restored Hampton Roads rail coach at Pennsylvania Station or the "Face to Face" banquet on Valentine's Day, a gathering of over sixty identical twins who were served similar but different-tasting dishes.

2.3.1. Face to Face

On Valentine's Day in 1986, a special dinner was held for twins --brothers and sisters, in any combination, identical or fraternal, young and old. The event was called FACE TO FACE, and it went beyond the romantic myths of Valentine's Day to celebrate the special relationship that exists between twins. An "edible art" menu offered such dishes as a "Double Soup" (with two different tastes), a "nest" of twin quail eggs, and a "Mirror Cake". Face to Face: A Celebration of Twins, press release by El Internacional, 1986
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"Face to Face" twins, February 14, 1986

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2.3.2. Porrón Olympics

An introduction to the fine art of drinking from a porrón will be offered on Friday evening in the bar of the El Internacional. Those who demonstrate sufficient talent in this ancient and honorable art will be inducted into the Society of Porronistas (SOP) and invited to join in the trials for the First Olimpiada del Porrón, which will be held here later in the summer. Friday's festivities will be photographed for the El Internacional quasi-quarterly newspaper, as will those who participate in the Olimpiada. If you are photogenic and skilled at pouring things in your mouth, please attend our Friday session. The Mysteries of the Porrón, press release by El Internacional, 1985.
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Friday Porronista at El Internacional,1985
Photo: Elena Guereta

2.3.3. Crowning Ceremony

The Crown will act as a cornice which protects and binds together a number of elements: the trans-cultural appeal of the El Internacional, the transfer of Lady Liberty to our midst, and the five points of the crown itself, each represents one of the Cardinal directions drawing visitors from the radius of TriBeCa, New York, this planet and beyond, with the addition of one more for the mystery and secret of the lady herself. Tribeca Coronation – A Gift from Miss Liberty, press release by El Internacional, 1986.
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Photo: Pamela Duffy

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Photo: Montse Guillén

2.3.4. El Internacional Newspaper

"All restaurants should have the ability to put, as this one does, their nascent philosophies into print: Don't talk to us about 'Nouvelle', don't talk to us about 'Continental', we're talking about 'El Internacional'." The Village Voice, New York, 1984
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El-Internacional-Newspaper

2.4. Celebrities

Betwenn 1920 and 1945, before it became El Internacional, it was Teddy's, a popular restaurant serving German food. In 1945 the owner, Teddy Bartel, sold the restaurant to Sal Cucinotta, who built an Italian restaurant, also called Teddy's, at 217-219 West Broadway, a place where Edgar Allan Poe was believed to have lived at one time. The luxuriously emblematic eatery attracted stars of the movie and entertainment industries of the '50s and '60s, including such celebrities as Elizabeth Taylor, Groucho Marx, Sophia Loren, Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, and Jane Fonda.

El Internacional continued this tradition, quickly becoming a key part of the social and cultural transformation of Tribeca, an industrial area the art community began moving into at the beginning of the 1980s. The restaurant soon became a major destination, especially at night, joining the Palladium on 14th Street and the Area Night Club in Tribeca as part of the nightlife. Its clientele included Andy Warhol,Sara Montiel, Jean Michel Basquiat, Pina Bausch, Robert de Niro, David Byrne, Umberto Eco, Antonio Gades, Keith Haring, Michael Douglas, Grace Jones, Diane Keaton, John F. Kennedy Jr., David Lynch, and Frank Zappa.

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Menu signed by Andy Warhol

2.5. Clipping

El Internacional was a magnet for the press. The major media, from specialized gastronomy television networks to the mainstream press, love it. Articles and reviews appeared in such key publications as The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Village Voice, The Face Magazine, Architectural Record, Metropolis Magazine, and Gourmet.

A few of the more important commentaries:
"Restaurants" by Bryan Miller, The New York Times, October 26, 1984.
"The Tapa Dance Kid" by Gael Greene, New York Magazine, November 1, 1984.
"A Controversy in TriBeCa: Is it Art or an Eyesore?" by Bryan Miller, The New York Times, August 23, 1985.
"Just a Bar. What makes a landmark?" by Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, April 16, 2001.
"Crown jewel of a restaurant closes in Tribeca" by Albert Amateau, Downtown Express, January 9-15, 2004.
"Artist's Digest. Antoni Miralda's El Internacional adventure" by Cristina Guadalupe, DAMMagazine Nº40, September 06, 2013.

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New York Magazine, 1984

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Restaurants & Institutions, 1985

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Nikkei Architecture, 1986

Part 3
Miralda & Montse

El Internacional was based on the creative partnership of two artists. One created the dishes and ran the kitchen. The other turned a fifties restaurant into an exuberant eighties artwork. It was a space that not only introduced exciting new pleasures to its customers' palettes, it also provided novel and fascinating experiences that linked the objects and act of eating.

3.1. Miralda

Antoni Miralda (Barcelona, 1942) began his artist career in París in 1966. He became a fashion photographer for Elle magazine, and created a series of sculptures based on objects and on edible art. His first art pieces Soldats Soldés (1967-72) used little white plastic soldiers to "improve" the appearance of ordinary everyday objects. In 1972 collaborated with Benet Rosell with the film París, La Cumparsita. While living in París he began to carry out performance/installation projects that experimented with ceremonies that employed food as a creative and ritualistic element, emphasizing color and symbolism.

In the sixties he moved to New York, residing there into the nineties. During this period, Miralda developed the use of public participation and spaces built around the food. Highlights of this period include Fest für Leda, Documenta 6 (Kassel, 1977), Breadline with the video installation Texas TV Dinner (Houston, 1977), the Wheat & Steak, parade in (Kansas City,1981), Santa Comida, in which he turned to religious syncretism, fusing Yoruba cults with Catholicism for works in New York, Miami, Paris, Barcelona (1984-1989). Then, with Montse Guillén, he created the famous E Internacional restaurant in New york's Tribeca district (1984-1986). At the same time, he began to work on the Honeymoon project (1986-1992), which celebrated an imaginary wedding between the Statue of Liberty with the Christopher Columbus monument in Barcelona. The project explored the ritual of marriage through the cultural fusion of the Old and New Worlds, with activities and exhibitions in New York, Barcelona, Venice, Tokyo, París, Miami, Las Vegas, amongst others. In 1990 he represented Spain in the Venice Biennial, where his works included the Shoe-Gondola and the Marriage Bans and the Trousseau.


In the 1990's, he created the Food Culture Museum in order to focus on the cultural aspects of food. FoodCulturaMuseum, is a "virtual museum" for the exploration, collection, preservation, and documentation of the many fascinating connections between food, popular culture, and art. The project has evolved into an Archive and Foundation that has developed a wide range of activities and exhibitions. These include the Food Pavilion at the Hannover Expo in 2000, Power Food and Tastes and Tongues that reflect on power and the energy of food, a culinary memory and the gastro-cultural richness of diverse Latin- American and European countries. Recently the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía presented De gustibus non disputandum, a retrospective of his work in the Palacio Velazquéz in Madrid.

He currently lives in Miami and Barcelona.

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3.2. Montse Guillén

Montse Guillén was born in Melilla in 1946, in a family of restaurateurs. In 1980 she opened the MG, her own restaurant in Barcelona with a creative team including Carlos Riart, Mariscal, América Sanchez and Llorenç Torrado. She performed a one day event presenting tapas at the Windows of the World restaurant at the World Trade Center in New York in 1981. Craig Clairborne wrote in the New York Times a two page article titled: "Zesty Catalonian Fare, Prepared by One of its Finest Cooks." Together with Miralda, she opened El Internacional Tapas Bar & Restaurant, in Tribeca in September 1984, instantly becoming a celebration of food and art, which the New York Times awarded with two stars, and with the New York Times magazine characterized Ms. Guillén as "The Tapa-Dance Kid."

In 1990 she moved to Japan, to direct the Barna Crossing Restaurant at the Hotel Il Palazzo build by Aldo Rossi in Fukuoka, based on the fusion of Catalan and Japanese cuisine. In 1992 she operated a Shabeen, a Jamaican Restaurant in the Hotel Marlin, in Miami Beach and four years later she opened the popular restaurant Bigfish Mayaimi with Miralda in the semi industrial river area.

Back in Miami, in 2001, Guillén and Miralda founded TransEAT, the Miami branch of the FoodCulturaMuseum. The concept of FoodCultura was developed in the context of the Food Pavilion, Expo2000 in Hannover where Montse Guillén introduces grasshoppers as tapas. From 2007 FoodCultura is relocated to Barcelona, functioning as an archive and meeting space at the old Moritz Factory, where many projects and activities were developed and presented: Picantó a la Moritz, a Beer Can Chicken performance in 2005; the city event Gambas on Wheels in 2007 or how to save energy cooking with your car; Oda a la Papa, a parade celebrating the International Year of the Potato, Lima 2008; Alba, a celebration of dawn in Madrid, 2010; Digestible News, presented at CIFO during the Miami Art Basel (2011), FOOD (Food, objects, objectives and design) at Mint Museum, Charlotte USA 2013.

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Part 4
Words on El Internacional

Which was your favorite tapa? Did you encounter any celebrities during your visit? Which was your favorite room? What dish was impossible to pronounce to you? Are you a twin who took part on Face to Face? Please let us know!

4.1. Get in touch

elinternacionaltapasbar(at)gmail(dot)com

4.2. Words on El Internacional

Here are the words collected until now. We are waiting for yours!

El Internacional was the entrance to Montse's and Miralda's wonderland. Having met you took me to the other side of the mirror and since then my personal and professional life changed for ever.

Antonio Buendia
Here I am in my 20's, dressed like a torero in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, "New York", at the time working with some amazing people and the most authentic catalan restaurant in the U.S., serving blue margaritas. And it's called El Internacional.

Montse, Miralda, thank you for letting me have the experience.

Arturo González
The potato omelette, the bread with tomato, chicken in garlic sauce or the pork sirloin sandwiches Isidro would make for me and which I ate with so much pleasure at the end of a shift when we felt at home and we'd celebrate that the day had finished.

Carme Guillén
El Internacional was not really a restaurant. not really. I didn't realize that when I worked there as a waitress in 1986. Of course we served food and drink to people and they ate and enjoyed it and there was always a crowd outside because that's where all the fun was and the staff was beautiful and crazy and danced through the dining room every night.

But it wasn't a restaurant; not really… It was art. In retrospect, 20 years later, I realize it was like working in a big, beautiful, sculpture; a lively homage to the culture of food… The room hummed and glistened with bright colors and sounds; it truly was dazzling… Giant lobsters, fish tanks filled with utensils, wedding cakes encased in lucite; reds and pinks and aquas and mirrors and glitter and lace; every surface, every corner, every bite; the drinks were blue and the baby eels sizzled and the coffee flamed and gold leaf garnished the chocolate mousse. The room truly vibrated with energy. It really was a trip! I'm glad I was there.

Fran Morehead
One day, beginning of June 1984, Miralda told me that Montse and other partners had found an old restaurant (Teddy's, a 50's hot spot) and they were hoping to remodel it and turn it into a restaurant NYC's first tapas bar. He'd be the designer, and artist in residence. Do you want to give us a hand?, he asked. I joined them immediately. In less than 2 months Teddy's became El Internacional... The day we discovered that behind the sad sheetrock stood a splendid mosaic wall was my favorite. Something from the 20's, when it had been a German tavern. I remember the shine in the mosaics and in Miralda's eyes when discovered them. The rest is history.

Jordi Torrent
Sorry I have only just got to it now… Memories of El Internacional… As I said I have many memories, new friends, the colors, the parties, the blue margaritas but for me the most significant memory is that it is where I met my partner and a great love story began, it's been more than 20 years and we are still in it.

Kerry Fulton
Memory paints more vividly. The large dining room filled with old tiles, a reminiscence of the history of the place, an old subway station. Emerald green uniforms, pink napkin waves for an attention, fast feet dancing with food. Bar filled with people, cacophony, laughter, foreign language, and blue drinks to accelerate the night. Elaborated gestures of Maitre d' escorting the hungry and curious visitors to fancy their evening. A rolled up hundred dollar bill on the floor. El-International, a theatre de eccentric.

Koosil-Ja Hwang
El Internacional – "I eat the tapa electric"It's hard to imagine a restaurant 20 years after the fact – but this wasn't just a restaurant, it was more like a novel and a film combined with a space ship and a time machine, serving food and drink on the same platter with a heaping confluence of ideas, traditions, fashions and art.

El Internacional didn't land just anywhere, it was reborn, like Venus on the half-shell, in the spot of another high-heeled, fast-paced restaurant – Sal Cucinota's Teddy's. Teddy's – long abandoned – had been a haven for New York's high life filled with movie stars, Wall Street financiers, singers, Major League atheletes and comedians in the late fifties and early sixties.

As Miralda and Montse Guillen set out to launch their art-restaurant, they mined Cucinota's archive not just like archaeologists. They were spiritual mediums and ended up not only resurrecting and restoring forgotten architectural details, but had summoned up the departed spirits from the past.

You could easily sit at the bar beneath porones and statuettes of Cristibal Colon and feel you were touching elbows with Richard Burton, Dean Martin, and "pre-Hanoi Jane" Jane Fonda – Miralda and Montse's El Internacional opened up a ectoplasmic node – a watering hole and oasis on the creative, spiritual plane of the universe.

On any given night, you could bump into the theater director Robert Wilson, painter Keith Haring, musicians David Byrne and Deborah Harry, artists Basquiat and Andy Warhol along side fashion models, and other beautiful people.

What were all these amazing people doing in this fantastic, far-out place on a dark street in Tribeca? They were talking, laughing, schmoozing and at the same time drinking fantastic turqoise drinks – like lunar milk shakes – and feasting on multi-storied, tri-dimensional tapas throughout the night.

El Internacional wasn't just an entry way joining the past and the present, it was a crystal ball forecasting the future — Montse and Miralda pointed the way, conjuring up the revolutionary ascendance and influence of a yet to be Spanish cuisine that has in the many years since taken the world by storm.

& it all started in a faroff, farout time and place on a quiet street in Tribeca…

Marshall Reese
"El International" exploded on the New York art & food scene of the 1980's like a meteor propelled from the planet Miralda.

It was an explosion of light, color, concept, taste, environment, and social thrust. No one had ever experienced anything like it before, and though, in the ratpack-gangbang of an ever self impressed Manhattan, there was thick competition and demand for attention, it was as if the entire noisy charivari of cognoscenti stumbled, stopped, lost its breath and turned it's respectful attention on something that had come to town that was beyond their ability to comprehend or own. They simply had to come and worship and wonder.

And they did. "El International" was "it"….THE place, THE event, THE scene. In a Manhattan-Mecca of hype, it claimed first honors for THE place to be.

For those capable of taking a closer look, particularly the internationals residing in or passing through New York, it was an oasis of a cultural depth they missed while living in and enjoying different sorts of pleasures in New York-America. For the Americans in nightly attendance, it was an interactive learning theme park experience of a cultural, artistic and culinary language unknown to them.

But even for those who were mystified by it, it was clear that both in Kitchen & Concept, Montse Guillen and Miralda were offering a huge expression that was contemporary for New York as well as richly archaic from their native Catalan and world reference.

In this daily see-saw of Kitchen & Concept, memories swirl of ever frantic daily activity….a Dalmatian dog beauty contest (with the black & white spotted façade acting as a backdrop, involving hundreds of dogs, a parade led by an actress dress as Lady Liberty, again honoring the Liberty Crown which was the indelible crowning icon of the façade). It came to make perfect sense to anyone involved that it was the only restaurant in New York with the daily attendance of a Psychiatrist, Dr. Leonard Stillman (sp?)

Like most meteors and conceptual art events, it found it's natural moment of programmed burn out (those on the team certainly found theirs!) and it left it's crater of indelible memory…..in the imagination and in the mouth.

Thank you Montse and Miralda for your courageous self-expression.

Patrick O'Shea
"CALLOS" A LA TAPA CAMUFLADA

"Calos? What's that?"

Ceviche, shrimp in garlic sauce, bread with tomato, ham, etc.

Between the hanging hams and chorizos I could see the client and what he would say when I'd explain in my perfect English: "Tripe of pork". Clean, washed, boiled in a extra fine sauce that Montse nailed down for the deepest, inane and most intimate spot in a pig: its tripe. They could pass as calamari or squid.

"Take it, you will like it, is a kind of calamar"

And they'd eat it and ask for more.

"These calos are beautiful!"

Very satisfied the customer would ask me again "What did you say these calos were exactly?"

"Pork tripe sir", I'd say with a great smile, "don't worry they're good for you."

Calos, the American tapa which never knew if it came from the sea or the mountain. .

Sindria Segura
The smell of coffee is what I hold most intensely from El Internacional.

Teresa Velázquez Cortes
El Internacional? I was the worst, or one of the worst waiters in the history of New York, or better yet, one of the worst in history.com. I was extremely grateful for the huge tips I would get, which saved me from starving when money from Spain wasn't coming in on time. I would get so nervous when I had to serve tables, up and down the stairs, balancing those huge trays filled with plates, that finally I had to spend all my money in backrubs. I'll never forget the day Umberto Eco came in with a great limousine accompanied by an exuberant woman, right around the time he had had great sales success with The Name of the Rose or something like that. When I greeted him and told him that he had been my professor at Yale, three years before, in a seminar about Silvie, by Gerald Nerval, he responded with quick and caustic humor: "When I travel, I usually find old students who usually are heads of state or at least ministers, CEO's, successful writers, tenured professors, etc. This is the first time I meet up with and old student that is a waiter."

Vicente Todolí
Menutiae

Many things set El Internacional apart—the blue margarita, the crown of the Statue of Liberty, the food catalana… One of the least expected, however, was the menu. Like its quotidian cousins, it had lists (minutus, Latin, detailed list) of foods with exotic names and prices. But unlike them, it was also entertaining.

As reading materials go, menus rank right up there with the side panels of cereal boxes and the speeches of George W. Bush. But at the center of each El Internacional menu was an essay on one of the many fascinating facets of food. They dealt with such topics as the mechanics of dining (e.g., the evolution of the fork), etymology (salt was the Roman soldier'ssalary), or history (the fact that corn flakes were created to inhibit lust).

Near the end of the eighteenth century, a great revolution took place in France: instead of making their customers eat whatever came out of the kitchen, restaurants began to offer choices. The menu was born. Sadly, the El Internacional closed before an essay was written to celebrate that auspicious event.

William Dyckes
In 1983, Franklin Furnace was awarded an Advancement grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. As part of the award, we were assigned a consultant, Elizabeth Devolder Scarlatos. Elizabeth took me to lunch at Teddy's, the local mafia restaurant in TriBeCa. The place was invariably empty—though they served us, so it was staffed. Ii can't remember what we ordered.

Then Miralda and his chef wife took over Teddy's, re-christening it El lnternacional. Miralda turned the whole place into a work of art, including the sidewalk into which he embedded crushed soda cans. (The City of New York, claiming it was dangerous, made him jackhammer the sidewalk out and replace it with smooth cement.) Its Statue of Liberty crown appeared in the leader to Saturday Night Live. And the color scheme of red, turquoise, gold and black exactly matched my wardrobe so I would frequent the place just to match the décor! Here is a photo of me preparing for dinner by dipping my fingers in a finger-bowl.

The squid a la plancha was outstanding—simple and delicious. El Internacional became an avant-garde hangout. For example, Mercy Pavelic, Director of the Heathcote Art Foundation and I held a party there after the opening of Tomislav Gotovac's exhibition at Franklin Furnace, located around the corner. TriBeCa was the coolest neighborhood in New York in large part because of the presence of alternative spaces such as Franklin Furnace, Printed Matter, Artists Space, Art in General—and El Internacional.

Martha Wilson