Part travelogue, part history, and all food, Grape, Olive, Pig offers an in depth look at the culture and cuisine of Spain. Beginning in Barcelona, where Goulding not only fell in love with everything edible but also the woman he'd eventually marry, the book takes readers through a crash course in Catalan history and the literal lesser known hot spots for the best drinks and tapas. From there, he takes readers on a winding trip throughout the country: Salamanaca and the story behind jamón ibérico; Valencia and paella; Basque Country and Goulding's own education in their dishes and techniques; Cadiz and the famed bluefin hunters; Asturias with José Andrés; percebes in Galacia; cocida and cocido variations in Madrid; and finally migas in Granada.
Of course there's more to each section than the dishes and people I mentioned above. Enough to inspire the traveler in you to book a ticket and begin planning a feast!
Goulding's focus on spots beyond tourist favorites is one of the highlights throughout the book, giving readers interested in a real Spain experience tips on how and where to accomplish that. But of course the best part of the book is the food. Unfortunately, if you're looking for recipes for the dishes Goulding mentions throughout, you're kind of out of luck, but behold the beauty of the internet!
My favorite pieces, beyond Goulding's own personalized tales and the honestly stomach-growling inducing descriptions of the food, were the bits in between chapters. Anatomy of a Dish pieces, Life Skills: Eat Like a Spaniard, Amazing Shit in the Middle of Nowhere, profiles of chefs, and Tapas Truths: Tapas Taxonomy.
Grape, Olive, Pig is the latest collaboration between Anthony Bourdain, Roads & Kingdoms, and Matt Goulding, which kicked off with Goulding's Rice, Noodle, Fish. Again, if you're in search of a Spanish cookbook, this is not the book for you. If you're in search of mouthwatering and insightful travel writing, though, you can't go wrong with Grape, Olive, Pig.
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. And for more on Matt Goulding, his eats, and travels, you can follow him in Twitter.
Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble